When Genetic Family Won’t

There are times and situations when it seems that adoption is the only answer.  The mother dies and the genetic family does not volunteer to step in and care for the child.  Or a father is overwhelmed.  That happened in my father in law’s family.  His grandmother died young after giving birth to her 3rd child.  There were two older children to care for, so the baby was given to and adopted by a childless couple.

In my own family’s circumstances, my parents (both adoptees) were never willing to take on that responsibility for their grandchildren.  With one sister, they led her down the path of surrender.  The daughter seems to do as well with the situation as any adoptee can be expected to – issues of concern about the feelings of her adoptive mother if any attention is given to her genetic family.

The other sister does have a debilitating mental health illness – paranoid schizophrenia – and is prone to irrational responses.  In that case, I am grateful she gave up my nephew and he is a high quality person.  There are probably issues related to having been adopted for him and we aren’t close, though I have been warmly welcoming and answer any questions he or his adoptive mother have asked of me.

There is no simple answer to children needing care and each person/family has to make their own decisions for their own reasons.  I understand that.  I do try to share some of the impacts and implications because there have been more adoptions and related issues in my family than most people experience.  About the only blessing for me is that I wasn’t given up when my unwed teenage mom discovered I had taken up residence in her womb.  I consider that a minor miracle for which I am deeply grateful.

In the case of mothers who die after giving birth – realistically and ideally – the mother intended and wanted to raise her baby.  She most likely did not want to die (unless it was a suicide which is complicated regardless).  The mother would not have planned for her family to raise her baby, if she had survived.

It seems a little unfair to put that expectation of taking responsibility on the genetic extended family.  Those who do are heroic in my own perspective.

Let’s Get Real

I know what I am going to write about here, will seem like shocking hyperbole to the average non-adoptee, to anyone who hasn’t spent time listening to the stories of adult adoptees, who has seen adoption only through this beautiful adopter lens, and the seemingly happy adoptees in their own community.

Adoption is not heroism. It does not fight poverty, disease nor the root causes of inequality.

Adoption doesn’t even raise awareness about the real causes of poverty, inequality, parent-child separations, disease or social immobility. Instead it creates an idolatry of those who seek to adoption to counter a world that stigmatizes infertility, disease, poverty and poor access to education.

Adoption publicity silences the voice of adoptees, trapping them in a pernicious web where they are expected to show only gratitude.

The outcome of showcasing a false savior-ism in adoption is to make adoption fashionable and highly desirable to the upper and middle classes and wannabe saviors.

Anonymising family history is at the center of the process.  This creates a commercial market for baby farms, coercion and kidnapping and provides a kind of diplomatic immunity and witness protection for all agencies and families under the magic umbrella of adoption.

The false story about adoption, that adopters are saving children, disguises the reality of parenting adopted children. Children who’ve experienced the trauma of separation from their natural family cannot replace the missing biological children of infertile couples.

The failure to address this grief by all parties and to instead speed towards wishing for the separation of babies from families, helps no one. Instead, the process leaves everyone having to repress forbidden feelings. That never ends well for anyone.

In the context of adoption, people frequently confuse being pre-verbal with being pre-feeling and pre-memory.  It is the myth of the blank slate.  In truth a baby comprehends without words.  In children raised by their natural parents, there is a sense of safety and connection that lays a foundation for the forming of strong attachments, robust relationships and resilient immune systems.

It is time for a good change in how society handles these situations.