The first comment I saw on this image went something like this – Interesting how it’s “aren’t your adoptive parents enough?” AND “don’t you want to meet your REAL family?”
A more interesting one was this story – last year one of my friends’ mothers introduced me to his father and his stepfather by saying this is my husband, and this is my son’s “real” father.. I said “does he have a fake father?” Her face was priceless and she hemmed and hawed trying to clean it up.
In these modern times when effort is made to reform the whole perspective around adoption it can be hard to know what the right way to say something is. Early on, I was advised not to use “birth mother” but simply mother or if an identifier was necessary – natural or original. A mother is a mother and all of them give birth. Someone who doesn’t give birth is not necessarily a “mother” though they may be understood as such, they are more accurately a parent.
Unpacking a few more . . . the I would rather have been aborted comes up more often among adult adoptees than the general public might believe. It is hurtful to be asked, “Why would you ever want to meet someone who gave you up?” Maybe simply to answer the question – why? I know that is the question I had regarding my own parents original parents (both of my parents were adopted). Even though I can’t ask my grandparents direction because they have all died, I have learned enough to form some realistic theories about the reasons.
There are a LOT of adoptees who don’t feel “lucky” to have been adopted. When there is extreme mental damage in a parent, maybe then. Most I have encountered would not refer to themselves as “lucky”.
It is true that it isn’t possible to change the past and a complication for my own self is that if my parents were not adopted, I would not exist. I do feel lucky that my teenage mother was not sent off to have and give me up. I credit my dad’s adoptive mother for keeping me in the family. If I had been given up, I would still exist and my original parents would still have been the same people but I would have been raised by other parents and my two younger siblings may not have ever been born because our parents may not have married after such a rupture in the family unit.
Everything that happens – matters. An adoptee can feel like they had a good life (as my own mother did) and still want to know about their origins (as my own mother did). My dad seems to have been content with who his parents were and how they treated him (though the first adoptive father turned out to be an alcoholic and was kicked out of the home by my dad’s adoptive mother – she did remarry and my dad was adopted a second time when he was already 8 years old). My dad never seemed to want to know anything about his origins. I have wondered if he was afraid of what he would find out. He told my mom regarding her own desires, “you might open up a can of worms.” That is telling in my own heart.
Many adoptive parents actually do adopt to SAVE some kid from some fate worse than death which they imagine would have been the outcome otherwise. This is called saviorism and is very common among evangelical Christians.
You can interpret the rest however your heart whispers to you.
When I first started learning about all of the impacts and issues surrounding the practice of adoption, I didn’t know what this concept really was like. Both of my parents were adopted and both of my sisters gave up babies to adoption, adoption was the most natural thing in my life. I really didn’t see a problem with it and while this concept more commonly refers to the adoptee who discovers the reality and “wakes up”, what I didn’t expect was that as the child of adoptees, I too was in the fog. And I have woken up as well and that is the purpose of this blog, to share these new understandings with whoever is moved to come and read these little daily observations.
Learning about adoption trauma can be a big surprise for someone like me. For the adoptee, this can prove to be a nagging feeling that you didn’t know how to name. This concept answered your question as to what it was. For some, their love and/or gratitude for their adoptive parents can make them not want to learn about adoption trauma, even though generally speaking, it affects every adoptee to some degree, whether consciously or unconsciously.
“Happy” may not be the right word to describe coming out of the fog. It’s more accurately about being able to authentically traverse and articulate the variety of effects that adoption had on your life, good or bad, but the bad often does far outweigh the good. In my case, it is a sorrow that for over 60 years I did not know about my own biological/genetic relatives. Now I do have some contact but it is like being slightly removed and an outsider no matter how kind they are to me directly.
It can be easy to be judgmental. Rationally, you may know your original mother was struggling and yet still find it impossible to understand that she could ever give up her children. In my own life, I lost physical custody of my daughter, even though that was not my intention but that I was struggling financially was the reality. Seeking to find a way to support us, I left her with her paternal grandmother temporarily. That decision with the expectation that it was temporary became permanent and I can never get back the years I lost. My mom told me of her perspective on my situation – she would have just toughed it out. Maybe true but then she coerced one of my sisters to give up her own child. I guess my mom’s fog was quite thick.
In the end, I lost my daughter to my ex-husband and a step-mother. He had refused to pay child support but ended up paying to support our daughter. I ended up paying a steep price to gain that support. I have never stopped grieving and have tried to come to terms with it, through accepting that it is simply our reality. So much damage is done when a mother is separated from her child, no matter why or how.
A baby recognizes it’s mother’s face, smell and energy,
feels a wide range of emotions, remembers, learns and
uses all five senses in experiencing life outside the womb.
Being handed over to a stranger is for the baby
a bewildering, even terrifying experience.
The adoptive mother lacks the physical, hormonal, psychological
and emotional preparation to know the needs and to be able
to mirror this particular baby – there is a great deal about which
the “unicorns and rainbows” kool-aid drinkers do not know about adoption.
~ The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier
I have had the most interesting kind of motherhood experience. I had my daughter in the early 1970s and my sons in the early 2000s. So much of the “philosophy” of caring for an infant changed during that time. In the early experience with my daughter, the baby was only brought to the mother for short intervals and kept separated in a nursery most of the time (and bottle fed negating efforts to breastfeed along with no lactation support). A baby was put on its stomach to sleep believing if the baby threw up it wouldn’t aspirate that material.
Then I had my sons and mostly they roomed in with me – the older boy more than the younger one because with the younger one my husband took over care of the older boy and could not stay in the hospital room with me 24/7. So the baby would go to the nursery for its vitals check and I would nap. Always when I was waking up the baby was waking at the same time or so the nurses kindly told me. There was marvelous support from lactation consultants when I had my sons. And then, I was told they should sleep on their backs as it had been determined to be protective somehow.
What I do know with ALL of my babies, they knew me from the first moment. Nature provides the natural mother with 9 months of the most intimate bonding and preparation to be as responsive of a mother possible. It is not possible for someone not thus prepared to equal her.