Occidentalism
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Leftist gives up adopted daughter

November 8th, 2007 . by Matt

OK, so a leftist woman who adopts a girl from a different race and culture for purely selfish reasons, and with fetishist assumptions (African themed rooms, African concerts and activities) that were purely, to my mind, for her own benefit and not for the child’s, dumps the child back on the adoption market when those assumptions are proven to be wrong. Of course, it is the little girls fault because she wouldn’t tell the leftist woman that she is her mother, noting correctly that “I’ve already got one”.

The moment Julie Jarman set eyes on Zahina she was smitten. The seven-year-old girl from Tanzania was desperate for a loving home and Julie felt sure that she and her 11-year-old daughter could provide it.

In turn Zahina would become the second daughter Julie longed for. “When I met her for the first time, she was a bit shy. I saw her hiding behind her social worker’s skirt, peeping out at me with an enormous grin on her face. She was gorgeous.

“She was with her foster parents in Somerset. Laura and I spent a week with them, taking things very slowly.

“One day we took her to the park and one day we went swimming and I remember seeing Laura and Zahina teasing each other in the pool and thinking I had seen a glimpse of how things were going to be.”

It was settled that Zahina would come to live with Julie, a programme manager for Oxfam, at her house in Manchester in July 2005. Julie was thrilled and spent the final days before her arrival getting everything ready.

She decorated her room with an African theme, she made curtains from some cloth she’d bought in Africa, and hung two framed batiks of African women on the wall.

She even stocked up on oats so she could make a similar porridge to one Tanzanian children are given called uji, which is made from maize-meal.

“She didn’t seem upset at leaving her foster parents and was quite excited about the move,” says Julie.

But almost from the moment she arrived Julie sensed a barrier between them. “Zahina would chat to me and ask questions about this and that, and on the surface it was fine.

“But I sensed that at a deeper level she was resisting me – I felt she was waiting for her mother to come back. Before she went to bed at night she would give me a hug but there was no warmth there. She was going through the motions.

“Often when I asked her to do something she would do it as the Tanzanians would say, ‘kichwa upande’ – unwillingly, or holding her head to one side.”

As the weeks passed the house became filled with unspoken tensions, resentments and discord. Most worryingly of all, Julie’s own daughter Laura began to withdraw into herself. In fact Zahina seemed to go out of her way to try to upset her.

“Once when I asked her to remove her mud-covered boots, she marched over to Laura, who was sitting in front of the fire playing Patience and parked her filthy foot right on top of the cards.

“Another time the three of us were supposed to go and see an African band but Laura refused to come because she was upset about something, but wouldn’t say what.

“During the interval Zahina said to me, ‘Laura was really upset, wasn’t she?’ and I could see she was really pleased that Laura was upset and that she felt she’d driven a wedge between Laura and me. There was something deeply unpleasant about the way she said it.”

Her behaviour was a far cry from what Julie had hoped for. Indeed on paper, she reasoned, Zahina had been the perfect choice.

Her circumstances were particularly sad. Her family in Tanzania were very poor and she and her sister lived with their mother and stepfather in a one-room tenement.

“It is not clear why her family decided to send her to Britain but she arrived here after it was apparently arranged for her to stay with an uncle and his British partner.

Soon after this, however, the couple separated and the uncle’s partner was left alone to look after Zahina. Attempts to send her back to Tanzania were unsuccessful because her parents could not be traced. Unwanted in Tanzania and here in Britain, she was taken into care.

One of the reasons Julie was drawn to Zahina was because her own daughter, Laura, now 13, was half Tanzanian. Her father is a Tanzanian teacher whom Julie had a long relationship with while working in the country as an aid worker in the Eighties.

Julie was pregnant with Laura when she returned to Britain in 1994. The relationship with her boyfriend ended the following year but Laura continues to see her father, who remains in Tanzania.

Julie had hoped she might settle down with someone else and have another child, but it did not happen. Five years ago, aged 44, she accepted that she was highly unlikely now to fall pregnant if she met someone and began to consider the possibility of adoption.

“I really felt that I wanted to become a parent for a second time and the idea of having two children appealed to my sense of family.”

The following year she applied to Social Services to be considered as an adoptive parent.

She hoped she would be able to adopt a child aged three to four, preferably a girl, because Laura had said she would love to have a sister.

She underwent a rigorous assessment process, including inteviews with social workers about her past history and family relationships, her motivation and expectations of adoption, and a six-week course in which issues discussed included the emotional needs of children who have been through the care system.

Being a single parent was not an issue; Social Services now consider all types of family set ups. In 2004 Julie was told her application had been successful.

The next year, her social worker showed Julie an advertisement she had spotted in an adoption magazine in which an appeal was made for a home for Zahina.

“The ad said she was lively, bright and intelligent and said she had formed a close attachment to her foster carer and would have no problems doing so again. I thought she looked lovely, she had a really appealing face.”

But appealing as Zahina undoubtedly was the little girl clearly had problems, too.

Julie says that for the first six months she lived with them she put in a huge emotional investment trying to establish a mother/daughter relationship with Zahina, chatting to her, playing with her, taking her on outings, but it was always the same.

“I simply couldn’t reach her. I suppose I did get frustrated by it. I would say to her sometimes: ‘Do you want me to be your mummy?’, and she would reply: ‘No, I’ve already got one.’

“Zahina would repeatedly push the boundaries and disobey me, it was very difficult. I would tell her she had to stay on the pavement when she went out on her roller skates, and she would go on the road. I would tell her she couldn’t go knocking on friend’s doors late at night, and she would do it.

“Once when she had done something or other I had asked her not to, she just gave me this look as if to say: ‘What are you going to do about it?’ I thought to myself: ‘You just don’t care, do you?’

“It was not the incidents in themselves that bothered me, more the underlying emotional gap.”

She sought help from Social Services, asking if any psychotherapy was available for Zahina, with counselling for her, but was told it was not possible to access those services in Manchester.

After seven to eight months, Julie says, something inside her “gave up”.

“I realised I would not be able to attain with Zahina anything approaching a mother/ daughter relationship. I was worried that I might in the future feel a creeping resentment towards her.

“Looking after children takes time, energy and effort and I wasn’t getting anything back. I felt a dull ache inside me. It was awful.

“I could see myself in ten years’ time being like one of those parents who go on about how they’ve done so much for their children, and got so little back.”

Meanwhile, Zahina was clearly unhappy, too. She took to writing stories about her toy tiger, Stripes, and asked Julie if she would like to hear one.

“In this one, Stripes was living with a nasty adoptive mother who threw him out on the street saying: ‘Get away you naughty cub, you can’t come back here.’ Luckily, all was not lost because Stripes found his birth mummy.

“I took a deep breath and asked Zahina whether she thought she might be thrown out on the street like Stripes.

“She said yes and though I tried to reassure her that this would never be the case, it hit me really hard. I rang the social worker for advice but she told me not to worry, saying it was great Zahina was expressing herself.”

Over the following few weeks, Zahina wrote four more stories about Stripes. “The adoptive mother was not mentioned again, but they all talked about Stripes losing his mother and setting out to look for her.

“I didn’t need to be a psychiatrist to work out what Zahina wanted most in the world. It was heartbreaking, because I knew she’d been abandoned and that no one was coming to get her.”

Laura, too, was suffering and had started to retreat to her room to escape.

“But even then Zahina would not leave her alone and would push her way in,” says Julie. “Sometimes she took things from Laura’s room, causing terrible rows.

“With the benefit of hindsight I don’t think Zahina should have been placed with someone who had a birth daughter, she would have been better going to a couple who had no children and would be able to give their undivided attention.

“She saw it as a competition to try to supplant Laura, not consciously, of course, and it was the behaviour of a deeply unhappy child.

“I think our situation reflected something in her past. I think she saw her sister as the favourite in Tanzania.”

Around this time, Zahina wrote a letter to her mother in Tanzania, asking when she was coming to fetch her. Eventually she received a card, but there was no reply to her questions.

“The penny dropped, and she realised her mother wasn’t coming to get her,” says Julie. “She had no other option but me. At that point she actually started making more effort, but it was too late by then.

“It’s hard to explain, but deep inside me I’d given up and I couldn’t go back. I began to be very anxious about what to do.”

A year after Zahina had come to live with her, Julie was confronted with the most agonising decision of her life – should she go ahead with the adoption?

She decided she did not want to but, desperately worried about the impact this would have on Zahina, avoided doing anything about it.

Ironically, it was Zahina herself who forced her hand. The little girl must have sensed that Julie was withdrawing from her and was having nightmares about falling down a hole. She was calling out to Julie but she wasn’t there.

“I realised we couldn’t go on like this, with all of us so anxious,” says Julie. “I felt it might be damaging for Zahina.”

She made up her mind – she would give Zahina back. “It was very sad and distressing, of course, but I could not ignore the fact that things weren’t right.”


Read the rest here
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7 Responses to “Leftist gives up adopted daughter”

  1. comment number 1 by: Phil2Musashi

    My gut reaction after reading this was that the mother was unbelievably selfish. Judging by what I read, it would seem that she focused all her attention HER relationship as the girl’s mother, without ever once trying to address the concerns of her new daughter. And why is it that she never has any idea what is upsetting her birth daughter?
    .
    Sounds like she didn’t want a family, but just wanted to play house. (with an African theme!)

  2. comment number 2 by: Richardson

    Jarman clearly was not ready for adoption, no matter what an evaluation or assessment said. She then lied to the girl by saying she’d never give her up, probably ruining any chance of a future adoptive couple making close ties with the girl. What a bitch.

  3. comment number 3 by: crypticlife

    A bit harsh. Jarman clearly knows it was a mistake, and on the face of it it’s not entirely unreasonable to try to provide a 7-year old with something familiar to her in her home. Nothing here really indicates that Jarman had a particular African “fetish” driving her.

    Phil2Musashi, have you ever given an interview for a newspaper and then seen it produced afterward? Believe me, a journalist can and will twist words any way they feel. We simply don’t know what else Jarman may have said.

    Obviously she shouldn’t have selected this girl, but you guys are reading a lot into the relationship and motivations.

  4. comment number 4 by: kjeff

    Matt,
    I guess I’m not familiar with this Australian lingo…what does “leftist” mean?
    BTW, the screener should be fired. I think Iggy had a more extensive screening process before it was adopted.

  5. comment number 5 by: bzn

    I reckon it was a good decision to not adopt in the end. Best to save everyone prolonged pain once you realise you made a mistake.

    This doesn’t excuse the utter lack of self/other understanding and “altruistic arrogance” of the decision to do so in the first place of course. Hopefully Jarman has learned some important lessons.

    Good analogy for Iraq perhaps?

  6. comment number 6 by: YoshoMasaki

    Did anybody read the whole thing? This woman had a relationship with a Tanzanian man for several year which resulted in the birth of her first daughter. She quotes the language extensively and seems to have more than a passing knowledge of its culture and customs.

    If a single father with a Korean son had adopted a son from Korea and faced these same hard decisions, I don’t think he would be facing such derision here. Anybody who has had a relationship that they had to painfully give up for the futures of all participants (for example, a girl who wants you to commit too much too soon) should understand.


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