This is a tricky issue that I have encountered here on this blog. What gives me the right to talk about issues related to adoption or foster care ? Am I an adoptee ? No. Have I spent time in foster care ? No. I do have a connection to adoption – Yes, I do. Both of my parents were adoptees and both of my sisters have given up a baby to adoption – but these are not the reasons I have become passionate about the subjects I write about in this blog. I am almost 67 yrs old and honestly, until about 3 years ago, I was in what is called “the fog,” not seeing anything to be concerned about when it comes to adoption. And I needed enlightenment and educating.
So I joined a group where the voices (thoughts) of adoptees and former foster youth are “privileged,” meaning given the most deference. However, in the group are adoptive parents, foster carers, hopeful adoptive parents and oddballs like me. And so, I have read and read and read there. I have bought books to inform me from the perspective of adoptees and former foster youth. And I get it and now I care about family preservation. I know that most parents actually DO want to raise their own children and those children want to be raised by their natural parents. Most of the time, children are removed from their parents over issues of poverty or solvable problems. Many an unwed woman who finds herself pregnant ends up convinced and coerced to surrender her baby – often to her lifelong regret. That happened to both of my natural grandmothers.
So the issue came up in my all things adoption group today. The woman identified herself as being a hopeful adoptive parent when she was younger. currently a teacher and someone who would like to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) when her own kids are a bit older. She admitted that she no other links to adoption. Her question was – Should I stay out of discussions of adoption ? Or should I share opinions that I’ve gained from listening to the members of this group ? When I see posts in other groups or have conversations in real life, I’d like to amplify the voices of adoptees and former foster youth, but I’m wondering if that’s not welcome. She noted in closing – Obviously, you can speak for yourselves on posts like these, but I know it is with emotional labor and at the risk of being gaslighted and all of that.
Someone who tried to speak up was told that she needed a reality check because some adoptees value life and don’t dwell in the past, and that the only trauma is for birth parents who are found years later and have privacy violated. And this is old misinformed thinking. It is the adoption agency line as to why adoptions should be closed and kept secret and it has been proven to be abundantly false by many adoptees who have had successful reunions with their natural parents. Yes, some of these fail or are awkward or come at an inopportune time in a mature adult’s life, especially if they are now married with children from that current spouse. It happens and it is painful and heartbreaking when it does but fear of rejection (which honestly happened to some degree when the child was given up and they know this) is no reason to prevent the effort.
One adoptee shared her own experience – Most first mothers want to be found. Mine was terrified of it but I think she’s glad I found her.
Another one encouraged the effort – Preach it…..pffffftttt on those who fuss ….. remind them that they can not speak for anyone but themselves. The truth will ruffle feathers. That’s ok. I personally don’t mind a dialog about differing view points….but many adoption focused groups don’t want that and delete/block a naysayer.
The one who originally posted the question shared – the adoptive parent I was communicating with felt comfortable speaking on behalf of the child’s birth mother. It bothered me. To which someone else noted – Remind her that it is okay to share her own story but NOT the child’s story! Then it is further revealed – She also brought up racism her daughter has experienced, so it’s a trans-racial adoption on top of everything. And clear that they are living in a very white neighborhood.
And so, in this particular case, it had become clear that the adoptive mother is wrapped up in some heavy adoption issues. Someone like that becomes so enmeshed, their only recourse is to carry on with adoption speak and in favor of what they created…..a big case of, pretend. That last word is an adoptee’s perspective on what adoption is – someone who pretends to be the parent who birthed you or that they have somehow saved you from a fate worse than death – called saviorism when it is trans-racial adoption.
So, this is partly why I write this blog. To spread some light in the darkness that has been adoption practice for decades as well as share my own personal stories, illustrating one or the other with one or the other. Yes, it has become a cause (family preservation) that I am admittedly passionate about.
4 thoughts on “What Gives Me The Right ?”
A thought crossed my mind reading this post. Nothing to do with the content really but a thought as to why closed adoptions are still “a thing”. Do you suppose that at the end of the day, some adoptions are glorified child trafficking? They are a business, just as the catholic nuns and convents in the past ran an adoption business, it hasn’t really changed that much in some places? I was reading an article where a couple were talking about the agency and the budget, and I thought omg they are buying a child. Am I wrong? Value your thoughts on this. Blessings J
It is a HUGE business and it generates a lot of revenue for those involved. One industrial report says this – “Revenue is anticipated to stagnate over the five years to 2020 at $15.2 billion.” Stagnate only means this is not a growing market and I believe that is because of efforts by adoption activists to help mothers and families keep their children. Whether this revenue estimate is for one year or for 5 years cumulative, it is still a lot of money, so your thinking isn’t wrong. Adoptions are almost always not a charitable transaction. Money is involved. Adoptive parents don’t like to look at it that way but they are buying a baby. Many do Go Fund Me campaigns to obtain the tens of thousands of dollars (generally $40,000 or more) they need to adopt a baby.
Only recently have adoptions included an open variety, and many birth mothers discover after the adoption is finalized that these agreements are unenforceable when the adoptive parents go silent or disappear after a few years and the child can no longer be located. Before around the 1920s, adoptions were generally altruistic – family, close neighbors – of a child who’s parents had died took the child in, often informally. These were nothing like what adoptions later became in the 1920s under such persons as Georgia Tann, who’s methods were actually criminal in many cases.
In my mom’s adoption, 3 women in Memphis basically ganged up to exploit and coerce my grandmother who was separated from my grandfather (for reasons I’ll never understand or can know but he was working for the WPA and there was a super flood on the Mississippi River that year which I suspect played some part). She tried to reach him but received no reply. 4 days after signing the surrender papers she tried to get my mom back (it’s right there in my mom’s adoption file which I now possess). A paying, repeat customer was on the way by train from Arizona to Memphis, Georgia Tann was not about to let go of her possession of my mom.
Catholic charities were notorious for shaming an unwed mother into relinquishing their child. Sealed adoption records were meant to keep parents and their child forever separate and inaccessible to one another. Often it was said to protect the child from knowledge they were illegitimate, as my dad was considered in 1935.
Oh no You’re taking me down rabbit holes lol Now I need to know who Georgia Tann was? I expect she features in the American Baby publication
that’s just been released. Blessings Joy Oh and yet another long comment which is a blog post in it’s own right
Georgia Tann ran the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis Tennessee from the 1920s until she died from the complications of cancer in the 1950s – just days before she was going to be brought up on criminal charges. An excellent FICTIONAL account based heavily on the truth is Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. I devoured it. A nonfiction account of Georgia Tann and a background on the history of adoption as well as a volume of detail about Tann’s exploits is The Baby Thief by Barbara Bisantz Raymond. Both are excellent for providing background on Tann. It is ONLY because of the scandal and persistent efforts by her victims and their descendants that I actually have possession of my mom’s sealed adoption file today.
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