One adoptee’s story –

I still struggle internally with how addiction and reunification should be handled.

My birthmom was not an addict but my birthfather was, and that factored hugely into her decision. She had actually changed her mind and decided to keep me, when at 3 months old, there was an incident with my birth father on Thanksgiving that scared her.

I am one of those with a “good” adoption story, so I have always been thankful for the life my adoptive parents gave me and the space they allowed in the semi-open adoption. This was the 90s, our “open” was more letters and pictures with direct communication starting at 12 and physical meeting at 16. I went to live with her at 17 with all parents full support.

My birth father is now finally sober but VERY brain-damaged from his many years of addiction and I do not have him in my life.

I don’t despise addicted parents by any means, and I do agree with the philosophy that not all people with addictions are neglectful parents. However, it is playing with fire IMO…. I think that if there has been no neglect or abuse then support should be given to keep family together as much as possible.

I personally feel that once actual neglect/abuse has happened then the child should have the right to decide for themselves the level of connection they want and that may not happen until age 8-13 depending on maturity level.

I do not believe that Termination of Parental Rights ever needs to happen, unless the child is truly wanting it. My anger toward both addiction and the system comes from the fact that kids aren’t given enough room or right to have their own voice.

I don’t really care what first parents, adoptive parents, or foster parents “want”. Anyone who actually loves their child in a healthy way wants them to feel safe and comfortable and connected with all the people in their life.

Reunion as teenagers and adults is different as their brains can cognitively understand addiction and how “using Mom” is not the same person as “Mom”. But a younger child can’t understand that and I personally am grateful for the stability I had and can see how damaging the inconsistency of foster care life can be.

I can’t speak for other adoptees but I have personally dealt with thoughts toward my birth parents like the following –

“You should have had an abortion then.”

“Why wasn’t I worth it?”

(Since having my son) “I get that being high is cool, but nothing is better than the love I have for my son. Why didn’t you feel the same?”

I want addiction de-stigmatized. I want drugs decriminalized. I also want kids to be safe and I think all kids deserve to go to bed knowing “I am the MOST IMPORTANT” things in my Mom’s life.

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