I want to introduce to you the pioneering work of Dr. James Kenny. Dr. Kenny has written several books on child-welfare and has parented many foster children. Here are some of his thoughts that we should consider from his website, adoptioninchildtime.org:
“The lines between blood and bond are clearly drawn when a foster parent files to adopt the child for whom they have provided long-term care, and a heretofore unknown blood relative emerges to challenge the proceeding. Bonding when properly defined and understood, merits equal consideration with blood ties. How shall the judge weigh the genetic relationship against the parent-in-place?
“For bonding to be considered, however, an objective definition must be provided…. Bonding is a significant reciprocal attachment which both parties want and expect to continue, and which is interrupted or terminated at considerable peril to the parties involved.
“The term “bonding” is best used to describe the tipping point, that line or point in a relationship that suggests that the attachment has passed the line whereby its disruption may precipitate significant harm, either immediately or later. According to the research, the odds have been significantly raised that the child will experience problems with mental “health, criminal behavior, homelessness, and other serious life problems.
“Many studies document that interrupting bonded relationships lays the groundwork for serious problems in adjustment, occurring either immediately or showing up in later adult life. The hurt child loses the desire to attach and suffers an inability to feel compassion and form or maintain personal relationships. The resultant inability to cope with separation and loss in a growing child anticipates an increase in later adult dysfunction.
“Statistics demonstrate that interrupting bonding is correlated with a significant increase in childhood and later adult mental illness, adult crime and violence, homelessness, and poverty.”
P.S. I would like to thank long-time foster-care and adoption advocate, Jan Hines, for introducing myself and many others to the work of Dr. Kenny.