When I was 4 and my brother was 10, our mother was sentenced to two years in prison for drugs. She was the eldest of 5 siblings (my natural father was not in picture or listed on the birth certificate). At first we bounced around to various family members. Eventually my brother went to live with our uncle and I went to live with a friend of the family. My natural mother signed the custody papers, then later the voluntary termination of parental rights, from prison with her sister (a Notary Public) signing as witness. Suddenly, at 4 years old, I had a different family. We moved to another state when I was 7 where I proceeded to live a brand new, vastly different life.
I won’t go into the rest – the court trial for custody when my natural mother was released from prison (she lost); the old money, don’t-air-dirty-laundry, only blood relatives matter mindset of my “new” extended family; the shock of moving from a major city in one state to rural farmland in another (on top of everything else); having my name legally changed as a teenager, when the adoption papers were finalized; everyone in my small town knowing my story because I had a different last name than my “parents”; reconnecting with my natural mother, natural brother, and her family as an adult and discovering they’ve always felt I was “stolen” from them.
I fucking hate it.
I hate being adopted; I hate my natural family for splitting up siblings; I hate them for giving me away to outsiders; I hate my extended adopted family for hating me, belittling my experience, telling me to be fucking grateful I was taken in by someone; I hate that I am reminded of my adoption Every. Single. Day. in large and small ways; I hate that I’m fucked in the head with no concept of normal; I hate feeling like a piece of luggage; I hate having two birth certificates; I hate people thinking I’m “playing the victim” when I try to talk about it; I hate not knowing my genetic history or where I’m from; I hate my natural mother for signing the termination of parental rights; I hate my natural brother for getting to grow up with our cousins; I hate feeling like I don’t belong anywhere, with anyone; and I HATE that I cried while writing this because after 40 years it still hurts so much.
So much hate inside me. Big Rage. But I am more than that, I have just as much love. A bundle of strong emotions. I’ve always said I feel like I was born without skin – just raw nerve endings exposed to the world.
What are you actually saying to your adopted child as an adoptive parent about what your motives were ? There are cases – I suppose – like true orphans. However, among the thoughts about reforming adoption in general, instead of buying a baby to raise as your own, is the radical idea of helping the mother in danger of losing her child. Her crime may simply be lacking the financial means to raise that child.
Clearly, if you can plunk out tens of thousands of dollars to obtain another woman’s baby, you could go very far in your ability to charitably help keep a baby and mother together. Sadly that is not the kind of thinking that motivates most adoptive couples. Most are self-absorbed, only thinking about what it is they desire, and rarely considering the emotional price and mental anguish someone else (and often more than one someone else – the original mother, the adoptee, any subsequent siblings) will have to bear for you to fulfill your personal desire.
You will be held accountable for every decision you make regarding adoption.
Don’t you think your adoptees will have enough sense to realize that in 9 out of 10 cases you could have helped their parents keep them vs adopting them ? Do you think you’ll never be asked this question or held accountable ? In cases where infertility was the reason for adopting (as most cases actually are), don’t you think these children will have enough sense to realize they were your second choice ?
It is still a rather new perspective and some adoptive parents have been able to own the facts and own their culpability in the messed up institution of adoption. What is done is done but things could be done better going into the future and that is why the idea of raising awareness and talking about ways that would be more life and family affirming is happening now.
If you do want to understand adoption trauma, then here it is – I have seen this for myself in an adoption triad group with thousands of members (all 3 sides of the adoption equation) – there really are a lot of very angry adoptees. Ask yourself, why is that, if adoption is such a perfect answer to everyone’s problems ?
For adoptees unfortunate enough to have been the victim of a shady adoption, the truth will probably come out in this modern day and time (much of that kind of story did not come out during Georgia Tann’s illicit 3 decades long scandal from the 1920s up until 1950). There will be damage that you (as an adoptee) may or may not ever be able to repair. The damage is deep – and comes out in bits and pieces – and in ways that are not always obviously related to the adoption directly.