I find myself in such an awkward position. I have come to see that adoption is not the happy, rosy picture the industry wishes to paint because it is so lucrative. Even so, but for adoption, I would not even exist. What a quandary.
So to get real – adoption is never about the child who becomes an adoptee. This is the reality. As difficult as it may be to accept and understand.
Certainly, I am anti unethical adoption. My mom’s adoption was unethical. My maternal grandmother was pressured and exploited in a difficult situation that to her unending sorrow resulted in losing the baby girl she fought so hard to keep. It wasn’t her fault. She was a victim of Georgia Tann who was a master at the art of separating mothers from their children.
Even though my existence is decidedly an effect of two adoptions (both of my parents were), that does not mean that I cannot see the problems with adoption – especially for the child who is forever wounded in a deep place and may not even know what the actual source of their emotional pain is.
So, it is not positive or beautiful to take another women’s child. Period. There has to be a better way and that is to provide for a family to remain intact.
And there is also the issue of the father. Yes, some are unconcerned about the child they helped to create. It may also be true that others that never get a chance. I believe my dad’s father never even knew he existed. Since he was married, my dad’s mother probably simply never told him and handled it herself. My dad was so much like his father that I believe they would have been great friends. It wasn’t her plan initially to give my dad away, though at 8 months, she let him go for adoption.
Everything about the act of adoption is sad and heartbreaking – for the adoptee certainly – but I also believe for the natural, original parents as well.
There is a poem common among adoptive parents and often framed and hung on the wall. There is actually more than one version out there.
“You’re a chosen child
You’re ours, but not by birth
. . . Chosen above the rest.”
“I had to tell you, Dearest Heart,
that you are not my own.”
This concept of being “chosen” is often disturbing for an adoptee. This is not a supermarket where people go to buy commodities. Adoptees are human beings with feelings and so many of the messages they receive are contradictory statements and confusing.
When my sister learned she was pregnant, she also knew that without a willing father to help her raise her son, she needed to give him up for adoption. This being a “modern” version, her son wasn’t chosen so much as the parents to raise her son were chosen.
Couples submitted applications, glossy proposals of why they would be the best choice. I was with my sister as she tried to make a decision. She sent these packages to me for my opinion – though the ultimate decision was one she made for herself.
The messages adoptees receive are paradoxical – they were unwanted, abandoned, and yet chosen, special and lucky. They rarely feel the “yets” as much as the more obvious facts. Their original mothers are often marginalized as “incapable” but oh, they were heroic to give up that baby to a mother who could raise a child no other way.
Adoption is a legal contract to which the child never agreed. They are made to appear “as if born to” with their identity amended to hide their true origins. An adoptee is asked to live their life split off from their true identity. They become masters at people pleasing – sometimes compliant, other times defiant.
For most of my life the secrets blocked any backward knowledge of our family’s origins. My parents were both adopted. It was simply a fact of life.
Now that I know more of the stories that preceded my parents’ adoptions and have informed myself more accurately about the practice itself, my perspectives have changed – for the better, I believe.
During my parents’ own childhoods, I doubt they were much inclined emotionally to go into the secrets that caused their adoptions. They were dependent on their adoptive parents, after all.
It’s a horrible, scary place. If they thought carefully, it was hard to rationalize it. How could a woman, who they had been told all of their young life, loved them so much, that she wanted them to have a better life, and motivated by that, place them into the arms of strangers, who then raised them ? It doesn’t really add up.
As maturity enters into thought processes, they could not but come to realize the simplicity of the truth – they were taken from their mother’s arms and placed with strangers. It is not hard to understand how this would throw them for an emotional loop, should they deeply contemplate it at all.
How much more the complicated paradoxes must have weighed upon my mom as she became pregnant with each of her daughters. The feelings that any mother to be has about her developing baby would have triggered thoughts about her own original mother.
Then, she is cradling that babe in her arms for the first time. Watching the
precious one sleep . . . can it be any surprise, that an adoptee might wonder “how in the heck did adoption ever happen to me ?”
Mother’s Day 2010
Ever since my oldest son was born, we go out every year to take photos among the Wild Azaleas we are fortunate to have an abundance of here on our Missouri farm. Only in one year, were there no flowers and we had to settle for a waterfall backdrop. This year, I can no longer endure a long hike due to knee issues and so my husband has suggested I drive our John Deere tractor while he and the boys walk alongside to area where he knows there are a lot of blossoms. He also wants to collect a couple of large rocks in the bucket that are on his mind while we are there. The last time I drove the tractor I got it stuck in a wetland. He reassures me that will be impossible in the area he has in mind.
Mothers are very much on my mind at this time. No surprise. Yesterday, I struggled with a lot of sadness about my maternal grandmother. I have this awful paradox. I was never able to know my original grandparents because both of my parents were given up for adoption. Yet, if that had not happened, I would not exist at all. Therefore, it wasn’t ever possible to have both – a relationship with them and life itself. Of course, if it weren’t for the disconnect adoption causes, maybe my parents could have enjoyed reunions with their original parents in adulthood and maybe I could have known these people. But it was not to be.
I also miss my mom a lot at Mother’s Day. I would have had a wonderful long conversation with her had she been alive. She died two months before I expected to see her again (we were separated by 1,200 miles). Her death changed my life. Discovering my original grandparents did as well.
Happy Mother’s Day !!