Parallels – Adoption & Abduction

A chart created by The Bumbling Adoptee on Facebook caught my attention – “the loss and trauma associated with infant abduction and infant adoption run parallel.”

The author shows in graphic form the vast differences regarding societal expectations in each situation as regards the outcomes. The similarities are in the loss of the child’s original family and the fact that the child is then raised by genetic strangers.

Within adoption – most of the time the child’s original name is changed. Some are not even told they were adopted, only to discover it later in life with a heavy emotional cost. Many adoptees will never be able to find out anything about who their original family was.

A lack of important medical information is a major issue for a lot of adoptees – it was for my parents (mom and dad were both adoptees) and has been for me as their child too.

It is now being acknowledged more frequently, though sometimes minimized by profit motivated interests, that there is trauma whenever a child is separated from their original family.

In the case of adoptions by one race of another race, there is often a loss of culture and native language.

The child never had a choice but was thrust into the situation.

How is an infant abduction viewed differently in society ?

Their original identity will always be considered their real identity. The law will side against the abductor. There will be an attempt to reunify the child with their original family. It is seen by society as a tragedy instead of a blessing or even God’s plan. The child is considered a victim.

In adoption, the outcome is far different with loyalty to the adoptive parents expected along with gratitude. Often society does not acknowledge the trauma that the adoptee experienced.

To simply this – An abducted child is expected to retain fond memories of, and long for reunification with, their “real” families of birth, and reject the abductor raising them, while adoptees are expected to bond unquestioningly to non-related strangers, and in some cases are expected or encouraged to abandon any thoughts or talk of seeking out their roots.

A longer article is available from The Huffington Post – Adoption and Abduction: Legal Differences, Emotional Similarities by Mirah Riben.

I Wish I Hadn’t

I wish, I wish, I wish…I wish I hadn’t adopted.

~ Donald Craig Peterson

Like a majority of families who’ve adopted children, I wasn’t mentally prepared for the surprises. You know, the chaos inside Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The manipulation and triangulation inherent to attachment disorders. The invisible insanity associated with developmental trauma.

When the bad seemed destined to overshadow the good, I quietly questioned my decision – as well as my worth. It wasn’t exactly the wonderful life that I expected. What would have happened to your children if you hadn’t opened your home and your heart? If you hadn’t adopted? I’ve given that “what if” question serious thought more than once. The possibilities are dark – when envisioned through real stories of children that were never given a chance.

He goes on to detail what each of the 6 children he adopted would have experienced, at least as he imagines the not unbelievable outcomes for each because it is the fate and outcome for some children in the system. Clearly, he still believes in adoption. He admits – They were never perfect children and I was never the perfect parent. But together we meticulously and mindfully built a forever family in every sense of the word.

He writes – “My three youngest sons (22, 23 and 24) still feel safe after 20 years in my care and appreciate living under my roof. They desire independence yet aren’t ready to take on for the world. Someday perhaps.” And I am happy to read that his perspective on parenting is much like my husband’s and my own – we don’t care if our sons never leave their childhood home nor would we trap them here. We’ve said as much directly to them.

Donald Craig Peterson has stories to share about his successes as well as learning experiences in raising his six children to adulthood. It has been his goal to convey unconditional love throughout the years. He understands the ups and downs of learning challenges, special education, psychotropic medications, ADHD, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, sexual abuse, juvenile justice, residential placement and more. His blog is here: https://adoptingfaithafathersunconditionallove.org/.

Adoption – Open or Closed – What’s Best ?

Today, in modern adoption, there are more open adoptions than there were in the past.

In an open adoption, a young adoptee may grow up alongside the parents who conceived them and gave birth, though these parents are not part of the family household the adoptee grows up within. Even so, there is sharing time together, visiting and writing to one another.  In an open adoption, you see and get to know your original parents but you don’t have them as your parents.

Up until recently, most adoptions were closed and so, in order to know the people an adoptee was born to, they had to seek a reunion after they became an adult; or at the least, a much older child, as in a teenager.

If it were actually possible for any adoptee to  compare the outcomes they would have experienced with each method, what would they choose in full awareness ?  Would they want to know their original parents throughout their whole lives ?  Do they think that knowing them would make their lives better or worse ?

Of course, there is no such choice for adoptees.  Open adoption seeks to make the adoption experience better by taking away the secrecy and shame.

Are the issues the same for an adoptee whether it was an open or closed adoption ?  Or does an open adoption simply create a whole new set of issues that didn’t exist within
the close adoption system ?

In a good reunion process, the adoptee is able to explain to the original parent(s) – their feelings of hurt, abandonment and/or anger – which were all caused by the decision of their original parents to surrender their child for adoption.

Can any child go through something as traumatic as being given up and still process it all at the same time – are they able to talk to the original parent about the feelings common among all adoptees at the same time as they are being experienced ?  This is not an answerable question as the two kinds of adoption experience do not allow such comparisons.

It can be quite painful for an adoptee to hear about a birth mother who is satisfied with having relinquished her child for adoption.  Yet, many such mothers were absolutely convinced at the time they made that choice that they were doing the best thing for their child.

Years later, many birth mothers wish they had kept their child, and that is why there are groups of adoptees actively working to encourage young unwed or troubled expectant mothers to make an effort to parent first before making a decision to relinquish their child to adoption.

The fact is – adoption exists – and it will likely always exist because there is a need and/or desire for that in some circumstances.  The hard truth is that not all parents to be actually want to devote themselves to raising a child.

In seeking to reform the practice of adoption, the more we are able to ask piercing questions, explore with those involved the reason for their decisions and just plain understand at a very deep level all aspects of the experience, the better we will be able to shape the future of adoption into better outcomes for all concerned.

Adoptions I Have Known

I chose this image because I like trees and Adoption is NOT the main focus.  From a perspective of balance and fairness, as it was recently pointed out to me that I might be too negative (though I don’t necessarily believe that), I thought I might comment on the adoptions that have occurred in my own family and their outcomes – briefly.

First, my mom.  Her mom did not intend to lose her.  I cannot view the exploitation, trap and pressure she faced as being in any way voluntary on my grandmother’s part.  My mom was pure and simple – taken away – from her.  Not because of any wrongdoing on my grandmother’s part.  She was a good mother doing the best that she could under difficult circumstances.  My mom was adopted by a banker and his socialite wife.  She had many opportunities that she may not have had in her original circumstances.  She was troubled at the thought she had been stolen, as she tried to understand the circumstances of her becoming adopted and was denied her own adoption file by the state of Tennessee, until they decided to open the files later on because of the scandal my mom’s adoption had been part of.

Next, my dad.  His mom was unwed but she left the Salvation Army Door of Hope in Ocean Beach California with my dad.  She went to some cousins who it appears were unwilling to help her.  So she applied for employment with the Salvation Army and was transferred to El Paso Texas with my dad in tow.  However it happened, she was convinced to give up my dad and he was adopted by the amazing woman I knew as my Granny.  She survived an abusive, alcoholic husband, divorced him, found a better man and my dad therefore ended up adopted twice and got a new name when he was already 8 years old.  He fully accepted his adoption and never showed any inclination to know more of the details.  Sadly, he had a half-sister living 90 miles from him when he died who could have shared so much with him about what his original mother was like.

Then, a niece.  My sister did not want to surrender her child to adoption but my adoptee mom convinced her that it was for the best.  It was a very secretive thing within our family.  I was told that my niece had died at birth and that never felt accurate in my own heart.  Eventually, the truth came out, she was able to reunite with us and has been a wonderful addition to our family that we love very much.  She seems to have had a good enough childhood and has become an amazing mom to her own two children.

Then, a nephew.  This is not the same sister but my youngest sister.  Understandably, adoption was the most normal thing in our family and I was close to my sister during her pregnancy.  She vetted hopeful couples.  Chose the best she was able to do with the information she received.  Her life became complicated and unfortunate.  He has been loved and his adoptive mother has always supported his desire to know his origins.  He is an EMT and a firefighter and an amazing and sweet young man.

Adoption has worked out well enough in my own family.  The results have produced good parents (at least for 3 out of the 4, the last one hasn’t married yet).  It is what it is.  We have a large extended family – extra grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – as a result.  I love them all.