Second Choice

“Trigger Warning – Miscarriage”

I have a fear of a baby I adopt growing up feeling like my second choice…I have had five miscarriages in a row, most second trimester where I had to birth a baby that was no longer alive. We want a baby so badly, and I think, if God allows us to adopt, that I will look back on this time as “the broken road, that led me to our child” but (if I’m honest) I would give anything to birth a live baby instead. Is it wrong to adopt, when you still wish you could carry and deliver your baby ? I don’t want my possible future child to feel like they were a second choice (but isn’t that how most moms usually come into adoption?) I want a live baby so much.

As one begins to learn about how adoptees feel and think, one learns that there is no getting beyond this if the adoptive mother experienced miscarriages or infertility first. The adoptee will always know deep down in their heart that they were a second choice regarding motherhood.

For hopeful adoptive parents who have experienced miscarriage or infertility, it is always recommended that they seek counseling first before moving on to trying to adopt, to at least resolve these issues clearly within their own selves. This will not prevent an adoptee from feeling this however.

Religious beliefs are too often tied in with adoption and the necessity of raising children. I’m not surprised that one commenter quickly asked – Why is it God ? (“if God allows us to adopt”) So many of these people are the first ones to tell others that whatever bad thing happened to you, wouldn’t have happened, if you’d made better choices or how God gave us freedom of choice, so take responsibility for our own actions – yet when it comes to something many Christians want -suddenly, it’s all about God’s will and God making it happen. I don’t know, maybe that’s so if it all goes to shit, they can blame that on God too, or say they were confused ?

Taking that a step further ? So odd when someone makes those miscarriages “God’s way to make them suffer, so they end up with someone else’s baby that they will always resent the reason for.” People twist situations to suit their beliefs and biases. To be clear, it’s wrong to adopt, when you have your own trauma consuming you. Deal with that first.

An acknowledged Christian makes these points – The Bible is in favor of caring for ORPHANS, which has a very limited definition. It doesn’t say to adopt or even to foster. The actual biblical definition of adoption is welcoming a new person into the family of God. Which can be done without actually adopting them. It can definitely be done without the next step of changing their name. The Bible places a high premium on lineage in the first testament. This is a pet peeve for this Christian. When people who have obviously never studied relevant passages to defend their decision to rip families apart, or keep them apart.

I do see the reality in this different perspective –  at least she’s honest about adoption being her second choice. She is not pretending. As an adoptee, I can deal with the truth a lot easier than the lies adoptive parents tell themselves to convince themselves to feel better about it. Then, they project that onto their kids…”we chose you”, “you were our plan all along”. It’s all BS. At least, she is owning her selfishness before, whether she continues to admit it once she adopts, is another matter altogether.

I’m not adopted, so maybe that’s why I feel more pity here than anger. I feel for her because her loss is obviously weighing on her mental state. Even so, she shouldn’t consider adoption until she’s healed her own traumas. I couldn’t imagine giving birth and seeing a lifeless baby. I don’t think I’d want to adopt or try again, personally. It is clear that she REALLY wants to be a mother, but to be a mother is to be selfless. It’s to put your wants in second and sometimes 3rd place, it’s long nights, it’s about the child and I don’t think she’s realized that yet. A child separated from their biological family NEEDS stability and more. This woman doesn’t seem stable.

And I agree with this assessment – she is deep in the trenches of her grief, and should not consider any further action until she seeks help with that. If she was to do the work and heal from her tragic losses – she may even see that she don’t want a baby as bad as she wants the babies she has lost. No baby or child, be it adopted or birthed by her, will fill that deep void.

Prophet Of Adoption

If it were not for Time magazine, I would not know this man exists. He is featured in their Feb 1 – Feb 8 2021 issue, in the TheBrief TIME with . . . 2 page section. In one of the sub-notes, I saw “has written extensively on adoption.” Of course I wanted to know Moore (pun intended and actually my maternal grandfather was a Moore).

Though I want to focus on his promotion of adoption to evangelical Christians as God’s plan, I’d like to first be thankful to him (as a second impeachment trial begins today for Donald Trump), for writing about the Capitol breach thusly – “If you can defend this, you can defend anything.” The intruders displayed JESUS SAVES signs next to those calling for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence and, once in the building, thanked God for the opportunity to get rid of the communists, the globalists and the traitors within the U S government and to this Moore said “If you can wave this away with ‘Well, what about . . . then where, at long last, is your limit?”

I’ve long known there is an unusually strong link joining Christians and adoption and Moore, who is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention, carries a lot of influence. He is the father of 5 adopted sons (two from Russia) and has written many books encouraging Christians to adopt and giving them biblical justification for doing so. Some of his book titles include – Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches, The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home, The Gospel & Adoption and Onward: Engaging the Culture. There could be more books than I have listed because Moore is on a mission to promote adoption.

I found a review of Adopted for Life with the title Adoption Isn’t Charity, It’s War!. I will admit, I find that perspective a bit disturbing. The writer is a hopeful adoptive parent with a couple of biological children. She admits that she has had a long standing desire to adopt. So this book is right up her heart’s alley as a Christian.

She writes – Moore addresses aptly issues of the Gospel, spirituality, how churches should build an adoption culture, details of addressing financial concerns, the sovereignty of God, racism, as well as the emotional results of adoption (& that’s just the beginning with this book).

Moore’s conviction that “adoption is not charity, it’s war!” drew my heart to fight for what is good & right & pure. God has called all believers to contribute to the ministry of adoption whether through prayer & finances or through opening homes, or encouragement.

Moore asks the question, “What if our churches were known as those who adopt babies & children & teenagers?” What would happen to our Christian witness if that was the case?

Moore addresses many issues within our culture including IVF. I know many children created by God through IVF & love them dearly. I think his approach in this particular area lacked some grace (as the grace side for people who have already gone through with IVF was nonexistent). I sympathize with those experiencing infertility greatly & think that all subjects, especially those of such magnitude should be addressed lovingly & gently. It is no small thing that brings people to the point of considering or going through IVF & we ought to be very careful how & in what context we speak to such issues. Gospel themes run throughout this book so the grace is there – I think you might just have to look closely for it in this particular area.

Well, it was infertility that led Moore to adopt and so, it doesn’t surprise me that since it failed and included miscarriages for his wife, he is less than passionate about that idea. One of the comments on this woman’s blog is “Adoption is an all out war for the life of a child.” The blog writer affirms, “Amen! and spiritual war because Satan is against such a beautiful truth lived out as happens in adoption! “

And really, Christians especially try to tie their support of Pro-Life (anti-abortion) and pro-adoption perspectives with preventing abortions. Honestly, the two aspects of reproduction and parenting do not belong together but it would be impossible to prevent Christians from doing this.

Which leads me back to Moore.

In an interview with Christianity Today, Moore says – My wife and I went through several years of infertility and miscarriages and found ourselves going through the process of adoption and we felt very much alone. So I started to write about the issue of adoption really to address people who are in the same situation that we were, which is not understanding and seeing the meaning of that rich metaphor of adoption in Scripture, not understanding how adoption makes a real family.

When asked – With gay marriage legislation moving ahead and not as many victories as they would like on abortion, is this a cause where evangelicals could see more success?

Moore answers, “I don’t really see success in terms of legislative or cultural victory. I see it more in calling evangelical Christians back to a commitment that we’ve always had to shelter the vulnerable.”

And since I don’t want to subscribe to Christianity Today, that is all of the article I was allowed to see as a preview. I can appreciate Moore as a Never Trumper. He acknowledges that Trump divided families and churches. For his courage in speaking out, he and his family have been threatened. Even so, he is a solid social conservative, opposed to same-sex marriage, abortion and premarital sex.

What may be perhaps his most clear eyed statement comes at the end of the Time magazine piece – “There is an entire generation of people who are growing cynical that religion is just a means to some other end.” I would include promoting adoption as God’s plan as one of those means to justify something that seems to be transitioning into a belief that society should seek to preserve the natural family through financial and emotional supports, rather than simply taking children from their natural parents and placing them into Christian homes where they can be indoctrinated into the faith.

Thank You For Choosing Life

Some questions were posed – How many pregnant women do you thank for “choosing life?” Why say it to the woman who is a birth mom? You don’t know that was even an option she considered. Yet, you want to blast it off social media thanking your kid’s birth moms for “choosing life.”

Until you start saying it to the preacher’s wife, stop saying it to expectant moms considering adoption or first moms. Stop blasting that crap on social media. It’s so incredibly disrespectful. Have you ever told someone “thank you for choosing life?” Have you ever given credit to your children’s birth moms on social media for “choosing life?”

An adoptee comments – I have not. I have forgiven her for the decision she made to give me away without a legal adoption but I don’t see her not having an abortion in 1961 as some great thing. 

Another adoptee perspective – I may sound dramatic but since my own adoption is closed and no information provided and lots of lying surrounding my adoption (Connecticut is one of the worst states for coverups in adoption). As much as I may love my life at this moment, I would rather have not been born. Then I wouldn’t have be abused and suffered pain and trauma. So those words thank you for choosing life wouldn’t ever come out of my mouth. I find it very problematic and just adds to the fake rainbow of adoption world.

Yet another adoptee says – If I’d been aborted, I wouldn’t know it. If my birth mom had chosen and been able to abort, I hypothetically support her, as I do anyone seeking abortion. If we want to end trauma, forced birth is not the way.

One woman shares – When my husband and I were first dating, I got pregnant and miscarried. A trusted adult who I told (not a parent) said “at least you didn’t murder it” because we weren’t in a position to have a child. That’s forever bothered me.

An adoptive parent adds – In many cases, being backed into a corner is not really choice, regardless of “choosing” abortion or parenting vs adoptions. In far too many cases, women are in crisis situations and are not helped so that they can make a decision free from fear or coercion. I also think the lifelong trauma connected to being adopted isn’t something I can be dismissive of in these conversations because I can’t possibly know how it feels to be adopted. I’ve read adoptees who say they would rather have not been born, and I think that feeling needs to be given space and consideration.

Some more reasons that it may be inappropriate to say thank you for choosing life.  It could be inappropriate because she may not have had a choice. The pregnancy could have been a result of sexual assault, incest, statutory rape, or some combination thereof. The pregnancy may not have been discovered early on, and if it had, the birth mom may have aborted rather than carry to term. Maybe birth mom wanted to terminate the pregnancy but wasn’t able to do so. How many states require a parent’s permission if it’s a pregnant minor? Maybe the birth mom misses her baby so badly that she wishes she had killed herself while pregnant, so they could be together forever.

A mature perspective adds – because they (the adoptive parents) got what they wanted. It’s always all about what they seek to gain, a child they cannot have on their own. Are they grateful someone else made them parents? Sure they are. It’s sick to be grateful for someone else giving you their kid. If they actually tried to break down the actual act of adoption, without their feelings, they would understand that.

Some additional thoughts – We don’t generally say thank you for choosing life to an expectant mother who is not in crisis. We assume the child is wanted, accident or not. And an alternate choice would not be obvious ie morning after pill or termination. Pregnancies are generally pretty easy to spot at some stage and strangers love to comment, so it is only those people who know the expectant mother or the plethora of manipulative pro-adoption information that push the “choose life” guilt trip to mothers both before and after birth or relinquishment. The people who benefit most promote it and have indoctrinated and manipulated society to believe this dross. The privileged customers need for it to be this way to soothe and convince themselves that they have done a good deed, rather than participate in a cruel trauma.

Validating The Hurt

The adoption group that I have been a part of for 3 years and has now closed to new content was often criticized for allowing the negative feelings and experiences of adoptees to be the primary and supported voice. It has been a space where an adoptee’s hurt is validated and not instantly turned into, “but what about your (adoptive parent’s) sacrifice?” that is found in most adoption oriented groups. In that regard, it was very unique.

When I first arrived there, because of how I grew up with two parents who were both adoptees, I considered adoption a normal situation and the outcomes to be nothing but good. I quickly got slammed and was totally set back by the responses but I stayed with it and I read books recommended there and I found books on my own and read those to and I learned the truth that adoption is a best the “second choice” and that keeping families intact – children with the parents who conceived them – was always going to be the best choice for everyone involved. The adoption industry doesn’t like that point of view but realize that their revenues depend on separating children from their parents. It really is that simple – follow the money – and the truth reveals itself.

Here is one adoptee’s voice –

I don’t know my mother and it kills me. Some days more than others. Pregnancy – all 80+ weeks plus a miscarriage – triggered me like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The first three months of their lives nearly killed me and my marriage.

I walk around not knowing who I am. I walk around knowing i was not loved in any healthy definition of that word. I walk around knowing I was not enough to redeem my adoptive parent’s wounds. I walk around living culture shock. I walk around knowing I don’t have a strong attachment to my parents.

You are asking me to tell you why the quality of the air I breathe is different from your air. It’s gonna take you some time to understand my air is fundamentally different.

In many ways, I do believe this is how my own mother felt. When she tried to re-connect with the woman who gave birth to her, my mom said – As a mother, I would want to know what became of my child. She wasn’t hoping for very much but she was driven by an emotional need to try. Her mother had already died by the time my mom was communicating with the Tennessee Dept of Children’s Services and learning that reality devastated her.

Christmas will arrive very soon, here is the perspective of another adoptee, Anne Heffron

I’ve been thinking about the comment a parent wrote here after reading my post about adoptees walking a tightrope, and, in order to answer, I decided to take on an authority I don’t have, and to speak universally when really I’m just speaking from my own experience. I thought about not replying because any answer I might give won’t be enough—it will be one paint splotch on a bare wall, but at least it will be a start, so here goes.

She compares the trauma of motherloss, the primal wound that Nancy Verrier writes about, to a car accident that has embedded jagged pieces of glass inside our bodies. Heffron asks, What if these pieces cut our muscles, internal organs and brain, causing messages of distress to travel from the vagus nerve both from the organs to the brain and from the brain to the organs? What if no one can see these glass fragments because no doctor has the right machine, the right kind of x-ray to find them? What if they are things that have to naturally work their way out of the body with the help of time and space and nutritional support and exercise and therapy and other friends who are adopted? What if this process takes decades? What if this process takes a lifetime?

What if the pain these pieces of glass cause the person to act in certain ways, ways that confuse those around them because, to the naked eye, nothing is wrong—the accident happened a long time ago and the person looks fine? What if the parents of this child they adopted believe their love can heal pain of which they can not see the source?

If a body is full of glass shards and the person cries out in pain and is told that everything is okay, that they are safe, loved, and if the person is asked why can’t they just accept the love and relax, then what happens?

The body gets tighter. The barriers between parent and child get thicker.

What if being relinquished and adopted is a body experience that takes time for the wounded person to sit with until the glass fragments finally, if they do at all (many people die with the glass still in their guts and hearts and minds), emerge?

This is what I think happened to me: when I was young, I felt the discomfort of the glass parts but I did not know they were there because I could not see inside my own guts and brain, and no one knew to tell me the story of my pain.

If they had been able to tell me the story of my pain, I might have fought them, hated them for speaking, for putting me in a forever prison of different than. Being different than your friends, particularly when you are young, is its own death sentence. So I don’t have an answer for you here. I don’t know what good all the information you have gathered about the side effects of relinquishment actually does when it comes right down to it. I mean, it’s not nothing, but, it’s clearly not enough.

My answer in brief is to be love but to know that when you decided to adopt, you entered a different universe. The rules you grew up with, rules for living, may well no longer work in this new life you now inhabit. For example, you just can’t hug a burned person the same way you do everyone else.

I think many people adopt babies for the same reason people adopt kittens: they want something soft to protect and love that will love them back. What if you think of an adoptee more like a porcupine? A porcupine doesn’t choose to have quills. It just has them, and this changes the way you can touch it. Hoping that one day the quills will disappear and soft fur will emerge is useless and harmful. What if adopting a child does not guarantee you will receive love back in the same measure you give it (or, I have to say, at all)? Would you still travel this road?

We like our stories to have happy endings, and we force most of our experiences through the funnel of “and then everything was okay,” and I’m here to tell you that I’m doing the best I can in this life with the body and mind I was given: one full of glass shards, and it’s a lot of work to try to keep up with those who weren’t in an accident. I know the ending is supposed to be happy, and so I’m trying. When you look at me with your lipid eyes, wondering why I don’t open to you, I won’t tell you it’s because I can’t. I won’t tell you it’s because I am in so much pain I can’t even process your questions. I won’t tell you because I know you won’t understand. I won’t tell you because maybe I don’t understand myself. I won’t tell you because you are asking a porcupine why it doesn’t purr, and this blindness makes me fear that either you or I are crazy, and this fear makes real communication feel impossible

Help Rather Than Hinder

So you are preparing to adopt a child.  You may feel uncomfortable, protective, or defensive about the reality of your child’s pre-adoption loss of the first family.

“The moment the subject of the adoptee’s woundedness and loss comes up, it’s like a shield goes up and they can’t hear a word you say,” Jayne Schooler, adoption professional and author.

It’s painful to enter into your child’s suffering.  It’s so much easier to assume that all is well inside your child, especially if she hasn’t manifested any obvious problems.

The first thing your child wants you to know is this: I am a grieving child.  I came to you because of loss—one that was not your fault and that you can’t erase.

Present circumstances can trigger unresolved loss for an adopted child.  They can and do mourn the mother who carried them for nine months in her womb, whose face they never saw, and whose heartbeat was their original source of security.

Most adoptive parents, instead of helping their child to grieve the loss and find closure, deny his past losses and romanticize his adoption.  Denying loss and failing to grieve can keep parents and children at arms’ length instead of in a healthy, invested relationship.

Webster’s defines romanticism as “imbued with or dominated by idealism; fanciful; impractical; unrealistic; starry-eyed, dreamy; head-in-the-clouds; out of touch with reality.”

Could it be that you have unknowingly been an adoption romanticist all these years ?

The best thing you can do to help your child is to grieve your own losses which may have occurred prior to adoption—losses such as infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, or death—and to let yourself feel sad for your child’s losses and your inability to protect him from whatever happened to him prior to joining your family.

Thanks to Sherrie Eldridge for expressing these thoughts that I have excerpted for today’s blog.  You can find her thoughts here – https://sherrieeldridgeadoption.blog/.

Misunderstood

Suddenly, friends and family have discovered what I have been writing about daily for over a year and they are understandably confused.  I would not have understood before about two years ago myself.  Both of my parents were adopted and so adoption was the most natural thing in the world to me.  Both of my sisters gave up children to adoption.  What I can say is that ignorance is bliss.

But for adoption I would not exist and I never forget that.  But for adoption my mother would have grown up in abject poverty instead of the privileges of wealth as the child of a banker and socialite.  My husband has said that my story could be viewed as pro-adoption and that is the truth.

Even so, I cannot ignore the many voices of adoptees and the original mothers who have suffered because adoption carries with it inherent wounds and that is what I tend to try and explain in this blog.

Even so, today I read a heartwarming story.  I am sympathetic to the pain of infertility.  I do believe that couples who have struggled with that really DO need to seek counseling before adopting any child.

Back to that heartwarming story.  A couple was traveling on an airplane with their 8 day old adopted daughter.  The mother have given birth in Colorado.  It had been nine long years of fertility treatments, miscarriages and adoption stress for this couple.

A flight attendant announced that he’d be passing out napkins and pens for anyone who wanted to jot down a message for the new parents. The cabin erupted into cheers and applause. A steady stream of people came by to coo and congratulate the couple.

One of the napkins read: “I was adopted 64 years ago. Thank you for giving this child a loving family to be part of. Us adopted kids need a little extra love. Congratulations.”  YES, some adoptees are truly grateful and I do not doubt that but I pause on that thought “adopted kids need a little extra love.”  Hmmmm.

The flight attendants explained to the couple that they are married, and a fellow flight attendant had done this for them while they were on their honeymoon. They wanted to pay it forward.

The new father shared, “Adoption is wild with uncertainty.  You wonder, is this birth mother going to choose us? What happens if she changes her mind, if she backs out?”  The overwhelming support the couple felt during that plane trip was also a time when they were worried that their daughter might somehow be stigmatized.

Southwest Airlines released a statement saying, in part, that the crew showed “kindness and heart” on that flight.  Common kindness always matters.  I actually do care about every part of the adoption triad.  Just saying.

Don’t Adopt

So for years you have been trying to conceive and after several miscarriages, you have decided there is only one way to get that baby you have been dreaming of – adopt one.  Just don’t do it.

I am the child of two adoptees and both of my sisters gave up children to adoption and for the last few years I have really gotten an education about what adoption does to people.  I belong to a group which discusses the reality of adoption among all the members of the triad – the original parents, the adoptees and the adoptive parents and the bottom line understanding is – please just don’t do it.

Your first order of business should be to let some time pass before you start thinking about adoption. It is very important that the feelings of loss and grief are given time to take their course. Realize that you may look at a child you adopt and think: What if?, or: I wish… or: would my own child look/behave/be different?  It is important that you work through these questions BEFORE any child is adopted. Seek the help of a therapist.

Then realize this – there are no positives for the baby or their mother in infant adoption. Pregnant women are targeted by agencies so they can make money from selling their babies. It’s an unregulated baby broker business with big money involved.  Among those who know (adoptees who are now mature adults) infant adoption is looked at as terrible because of the unethical practices that come with it.  Beyond that simple fact is the loss of the child’s natural family and true identity.

About the only idea that is acceptable would be adopting children who are in foster care whose parental rights have been legally terminated.  And even in this case the plan should be for an adoptive parent to do everything they can to keep some kind of relationship open for the child with the natural family in any way possible. Guardianship is preferred over adoption but many states won’t allow guardianship as a long term option.

Adopt someone who wants to be adopted, and is old enough (13 or older) to consent to adoption.  Adopt a legally available child from the foster care system.  Do not change their identity in any way.  Be sure you have complete medical records so they can live a more normal life as they mature.  Babies grow up.  The child you adopt will be grown very quickly but the damage you could do will last a lifetime.