Late last night I waded into a lengthy thread in a private group here at Facebook related to adoption. More specifically, they are on a mission to mostly, if not completely, end adoption. The most compelling and highlighted “voices” are those of adoptees with the mothers who lost a child to adoption given the next highest priority. Adoptive Parents (or those who hope to) can find themselves under heavy fire and not all of them can cope with that.
I do believe the voices in this group speak honestly a perspective that really needs to be seriously considered.
Other than financial inheritance questions which primarily affect wealthy adoptive parents and the children they adopt (I am familiar with that from my own family’s dynamics), there really is NO good argument for ever adopting a child.
There are alternatives – taking in a foster care child who really needs a home and providing for it (not adopting it and accordingly to my understanding, foster care is generally considered temporary and reunification with the natural family is the goal). Another alternative is guardianship and NOT changing the child’s identity at all (no name change, falsified identity, birth certificate tampering). When the child (who generally has no say in the adoption process) becomes an adult, then they can decide what kind of formal or informal relationships they want going forward.
One other suggestion would be for a couple who believes they want to adopt to basically become a kind of loving aunt and uncle to a mother and her child. Provide the support that the mother’s own family and society may not be willing to give to her.
Though not all adoptees admit to being harmed by having been adopted, the majority have wounds, may be in therapy or commit suicide at a higher rate than the general population.
ALL adoptions require the separation of a child from its natural mother and all children would chose the natural mother if financial support and mental health requirements could be met to allow them to stay together.
From an adoptee – “It’s not as easy as everyone thinks, growing up and never knowing the truth about yourself.”
And it isn’t easy for the child of two adoptees because the feeling is the same – there is an emptiness, a void, a gap in the family history story and it hurts somehow in some deep place that is hard to describe to someone who hasn’t felt this.
Having gotten my mother’s adoption file from the state of Tennessee, due to her having been adopted through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society – Memphis branch – under the direction of Georgia Tann (who would have been indicted on criminal charges had she not died first), it was clear that my maternal grandmother never intended to lose my mom.
When my mom tried to get that adoption file herself in 1990 (and was rejected by the state of Tennessee), she said – as a mom, I would have wanted to know what happened to my child. My mom yearned for a reunion she would never have, since her mom died in 1984. My mom was devastated.
I also believe her mom always hoped my mom would find her. Though her given name was Elizabeth and it shows up in the adoption file and later in the divorce papers from my maternal grandfather 3 years later, she reverted to the name on my mom’s birth registration in Virginia – “Lizzie Lou” – and even her gravestone bears that name.
In her book – A Hole in My Heart – Lorraine Dusky notes “You would be surprised how many little blond girls there are in the world when you are not looking for them. They are everywhere, filling your sightline like a chorus line of charming little dolls, reminding, mocking, making you aware of what you are missing, what you have done.
You stare at them, check out their clothes, absorb their little-girl movements and words.
The girl in the coffee shop with her mother. Another at the supermarket. Creating a scene at the mall. The daughter of a friend of someone you are dating, you can’t take your eyes off her, blonde, fine-bones and only a few months older than yours.”
Questions haunt a mother who has given up her child to adoption – Are my daughter’s parents good to her ? How is she ? Who does she look like ? Is she blonde like me ? Does she have my flat feet and his blue eyes ?
It is more than the girls themselves – an invitation to a baby shower. A picture of a baby in a magazine. Forsythia in a flower shop window. A family reunion.
I have this secret that makes me – different. Alien. Deep inside me there is a gnawing sense that I must find my daughter one day. Surely I am not the only one in this private hell.
It is good that the trend now is for – at the least – open adoptions. And there are activists among those who were adopted themselves trying to reform the system to make adoption rare, if at all.
It is good. It will stop some of the pain . . . as a society, we should care about our mothers and children more than we do.