Not A Blank Slate

The trauma of being separated from your mother can’t be ignored. No matter the age of the child. The trauma is intensified by the fact that an infant can’t understand, healthily process, or vocalize what’s happening to them.

One of the first things I learned about Georgia Tann was her assertion that the babies she provided to adoptive couples were a blank slate they could mold in their own image and preferences.  This is decidedly obsolete and archaic thinking. You can’t try to put a square peg in a round hole and expect it to fit.

This blank slate idea was never the truth as many adult adoptees can tell you today, as families in reunion discover where their natural traits actually came from.  One such story from an adoptee is this – I really never related to my adopted family. We didn’t enjoy the same activities, foods, interests etc. When I finally found my birth family the very first night I felt like I was finally home.

However, even biological children can’t be molded after their parent’s ideal. So why should any adoptive parent expect a child (that’s not even from their own genes) to turn out according to the adoptive parent wishes ?  Natural biology is real and shows through. DNA is a thing that exists. Being adopted doesn’t mean that your adopted child will all of a sudden biologically come from your adoptive parent genes. Even if the adoptee’s birth certificate lies and says they were born to the adoptive parents.

My own daughter and two sons have often reminded me of how much they are their own person.  My daughter may have some personality aspects that feel very much like my own but she is not a mini-me.  Even our two boys raised under very similar circumstances are different from one another, reminding me to treat each one as individually as they deserve. Any adoptive parent who expects things to be any different is simply fooling themselves with a fantasy that cannot be fulfilled.

And people can be so clueless and ask the most awkward questions.  Case in point.  One woman shared – I am a brown Latina woman. I went to a birthday party for my daughter’s friend (4 at the time) and I was holding our foster son and as soon as I walked in a woman said to me, ‘how did you get a ‘white baby’?! I was so shocked that I could not think of what to say. I’ve practiced a lot since then. LOL.

Or how some people after an attempt to “educate” them will say something like – “God clearly put you together and meant for you to be a family.” At that point, an enlightened adoptive mother might get more forceful and say that if their god had intended us to be a family, he would have made it so without putting my child through adoption trauma. The woman who shared this went on to say “I don’t really stand for people who think they can speak for their god, especially when it comes to adoption.”

One of the uglier remarks come from a person who upon learning a child had been adopted, went on to say they are so glad the child won’t turn out like their original parents.  In front of the child no less.

As for the blank slate theory, regardless – no one should become a parent simply to enforce what they want on their children. Parents to help their children become the best version of themselves, find their own path and passions, and are supportive of the child along the way.

 

How Do You Refer To Her ?

After discovering who my original grandparents were (both of my parents were adopted and died knowing next to nothing about their origins), my next education was in the realities of the adoption experience from a private Facebook group that includes all people related to the circumstance.

Early on, I learned that women who have given up a child to adoption dislike being referred to as the birth mother – as though all they did was give birth – failing to acknowledge that they gave 9 months of their life to the development of that baby – and not understanding as well the bonding that occurs between mother and child during gestation.

Understandably adoptive mothers really don’t want to dwell on the parts they were denied for whatever reason from experiencing.  They are a desire-driven, forward looking bunch.

One such mother replied to a question about her preferences – as a mother of a child lost to adoption I prefer to be referred to as my daughter’s mother – because that is what I am. My daughter can call me whatever she chooses and it varies…she is 50 years old. Let’s be honest…..you, are your child’s adoptive mother. Your child has a mother. If you negate that you are negating a primal aspect of your child’s life! The truth is critical. Do not take ownership of that which is not your truth.

Another one shared – I prefer mother, mom, or natural mom. Birth mother reduces me to my uterus and ability to procreate. It dehumanizes me and intentionally strips me of my actual motherhood all in the name of stroking the egos of adoptive parents.

Yet another one added this – I like bio mom. Biology means a lot to me. But I don’t get offended by any of the other terms or names.

Sadly, another one shared – My daughter was adopted without my consent, we have direct contact once a year. The adoptive parents and social workers have always pushed the term ‘tummy mummy’ which I personally find very patronising and hurtful, I’d prefer natural mum over anything else.

Finally, there was this – I’m a mother, pure and simple. Of course, I lost my children to Child Protective Services, and it was in no way voluntary. As an adoptee, as well, I *far* prefer the term first or original mother over natural or birth mother. Both of my mothers are my “real” mothers. Both are my mother. “Birth” implies that my original mother was a brood, and “natural” implies that my relationship with my adoptive family isn’t natural. For me, it is. Being on both sides of this, I would argue that the feelings of the adopted person should be paramount to the feelings of the biological parent.

If you would like to know more about the history behind this issue, you can read about it here – The Origin of the Word “Birthmother”.

It’s Not The Same

From personal experience, I believe the biology matters more than the genetics.  The bonding that occurs when a baby grows in the mother’s womb, is kept close to her after emerging in birth and nurses at her breast for an extended number of months.   The love I experienced at the moment of each of my three children’s birth was instantaneous and overwhelming.  Unmistakable.

Certainly, children are usually easy to love.  The innocence and purity of their new lives unsullied by the travails of life’s circumstances.

An adopted child is never really “yours”.  That is a mistaken concept.  An adopted child is one you care for and in the best circumstances care for equally as you would care for a child that issued forth from your body but what is lost is not replaceable.

You may not love your adopted child “less” than biological children if these are also present in your home but the quality of love is different, it is not the same.

Most adoptive parents are afraid to admit this truth because they’re afraid people will judge them and think it means they love their adoptive kids less.   Deep down they know it’s not the same at all. They are lying to themselves to keep up the farce. It will never be the same love. It can’t be. And they can’t deal with admitting that.

Love ebbs and flows in all loving relationships, even between parents and biological children. You never stop loving your children.  My mom struggled with the challenges of my youngest sister all their lives.  My sister believed, even after our mom had died, that our mom hated her.  I know that is not the truth.  However, from my perspective on the outside witnessing, my mom didn’t accept my sister was the way she is.  My mom was always trying to make her what my mom would have preferred her to be like.  That was the source of the tension and conflict between them.  But love – I definitely know my mom did not stop loving my sister.

The connection between a biological mother and the child she gestates is different than adopting a child who’s life began elsewhere. In truth, it has nothing to do with loving them or not.  It has everything to do with hormones and biology.

So, biology does matter. It doesn’t mean an adoptive parent will treat their adopted children differently, or love them less but it’s not the same because biology does matter. You will never have the same relationship with your adopted children, that you have with your biological children. That’s the effect that biology has.  The bond is special and it simply can’t be recreated through adoption.

Adoption – A Mother’s Sorrow

I can relate, though I didn’t give up a child to adoption, financially I lost the ability to raise my first born precious daughter.  There are no words for the lifetime of regret and sense of loss that never ends.  I remember looking through commercial greeting cards for something to send my daughter on her birthday and nothing related to the kind of relationship I have with her.  Eventually, I simply started making them my self where I could modify the text to be more accurate.

At least I knew where she was and who was raising her.  Not so for a mother who relinquishes her child to a closed adoption.  Open adoptions are more frequent now but adoptive parents can and often do close the door to contact.

It is difficult to generalize about the feelings or experiences of all of the parents who surrender a child.  Many may feel that their child will have a better life in an adoptive home and often that may be true if the mother is homeless or financially destitute.  Money and love and biological connection are not one and the same.  Even so, some parents who surrender a child do so believing that they are putting the child’s best interests ahead of their own, when they make the decision to place the child for adoption.

Grief and guilt are often the outcome for such a mother.  I know, I suffered both and still do.  Even though my daughter is now 46 years old and we have what I would consider to be a pretty good relationship with each other, I still struggle with the reality that I was not there for her growing up.  There is no changing that no matter how I feel about it.

Shock and denial, sorrow and depression, anger, guilt, and acceptance are the various feelings that a parent who has surrendered their child may experience at any given time, very dependent on the overall circumstances.

When the loss of a parent’s child is viewed as a “choice” that parent voluntarily made, there may be little sympathy or compassion and indeed, a strong inclination to ignore the pain and encourage the parent to go on with their life.  If only it were that simple . . .

One Retail DNA Test Away From Truth

If a child has been adopted or conceived via sperm or egg donor, that information is significantly about who that child is at a biological level and they deserve to know the truth.  That truth can be introduced in age appropriate bits.

Withholding that information would be a lie and it is simply wrong.

Before anyone embarks on adopting a child or decides to utilize advanced reproductive assistance in order to become a family, it is important to become comfortable with what you are doing – BEFORE you do it.  If necessary, seek counseling regarding your infertility issues.  Denial will come back to haunt you.

There’s no reason for shame, no matter what medical assistance you needed, which includes IVF.  Adoption, however, has its own unique circumstances.  Every prospective adoptive parent needs to learn as much as possible about its impacts on every member of that triad before becoming embroiled.