Is Gotcha Day Offensive ?

Personally, I have always found this disturbing.  I really can’t believe an adoptive parent thinks like this but it does seem to be a common thing.  I wonder how the child might feel growing up knowing their own birthday wasn’t important.

“We celebrate our children’s Gotcha Day not birthday. The birthdate is the day they were born not when their life began. Gotcha day is what we celebrate and acknowledge as their new birthday. It’s when we became a family, their family. That’s when they were born into our family. Gotcha day is their birth into our family and as their parents. The moment all of our struggle was worth it and forgotten, similar to when a woman gives birth. All the pain washes away, when you finally meet your child”.

One adoptive parent said, “I understand that most people who have not adopted a child simply do not know that their questions may be rude or offensive or not the politically correct adoptive term.”

Families celebrate this day in many different ways and it can vary from a large party type celebration to a minor recognition to nothing at all.  Adoption comes from a place of loss and brokenness.  It also carries with it heavy emotions for everyone involved.

The term “gotcha” is too casual for the arrival of a child into the family. It can be insensitive to all parties involved in the adoption process.

One adoptive parent prefers to use the term Finalization Day but would be equally comfortable with Adoption Day.  Still, she prefers finalization as it’s more specific to what the day actually is.  She also admits that over time this may evolve and change.

As she explains her reasoning, she shares that she and her husband talked about it and put a lot of thought into it.  They arrived at the decision to mark “Finalization Day” on their calendar and to consider it a celebration of the day that their family became whole and complete.

As a somewhat enlightened adoptive parent (I would not say completely enlightened but adoption is going through a definite reform in perspective that is painfully slow for some of us but progress never-the-less) she acknowledges that it is very, very important to always honor her son’s birth family and his story.  However, it’s also not something she wishes to focus on all the time. It’s a PART of who he is and she sincerely hopes it does NOT define him.  Only time and maturity will prove whether that is true or not.

While he’s the original mother’s son and always will be, he’s also their son and their other children’s brother.  It is understandable that she would want him to never feel singled out or like he’s any less loved or less part of their family.

She goes on to admit that it is a very delicate balance. And every adoptive child and adult will feel differently about their adoption journey and story. Each adoptees’ story is special and unique and it’s not a “one size fits all” situation.  Adult adoptees go many directions in how they feel regarding their adoption. That’s honest.

It seems that her hope is that he’ll never, ever want to think or talk about adoption. Maybe he’ll just want to BE and not think deeper about how he came to be who he is. Not consider himself an “adoptee.”  That is probably wishful thinking but oh well.

She goes on to also explain that all of their children have adoption as part of their personal story. They have all been touched by it and are walking this path together.  She acknowledges that as they grow up, they all may have their own thoughts, feelings and questions.  To her credit, she always wants to be an open book with them and readily share anything – at ANY time of the year – that they might want to know.

Tricky Situations

I get it.  Sometimes family isn’t really safe.  What’s a foster parent to do, in order to keep lines of communication with original family open ?  And do it safely ?

First of all it may take time to build trust and allow the original family members an opportunity to get to know you as a real and caring human being.  When the original family can see clearly that you are caring for their children in a manner a loving parent would want their child cared for that can go a long way towards developing that trust.  It is about having rapport with one another in common cause.

As a foster parent you may have to put aside your thoughts of worry and/or fears.  Begin by just engaging with these kids’ parent(s) from a perspective of one human being to another human being.  In other words, common courtesy and good manners. Don’t bring up conditions like – “you need to be safe for contact to begin or continue.”  Wow, is that ever a sure way to get anyone’s heckles up. Of course, if something dangerous actually happens, then as the responsible party you will have to make the appropriate call, but don’t anticipate it.

No finger pointing, looking down your nose at the original parent or assuming the worst about them.  Try to put yourself in their shoes.  Think about how hurt you’d feel if some stranger put conditions on seeing your baby.  If this parent does get violent, well of course, you are going have to end that visit.  Logic would dictate that you don’t need to tell a parent in this situation.  In child protective situations, they already know the issues.  As the foster parent that will just need to be the move you make IF the time comes.

Don’t  listen only to or form an opinion solely based on other people’s opinions.  Depend first on your own personal knowledge of the original parent(s).  Your direct experience.  Give this parent who has already suffered the worst possible loss a chance to redeem themselves.  People change.  People learn from mistakes.  It is terrible to be stuck into a permanent box over temporary behavior that was so very wrong – admittedly.  This is not to be in denial of danger or to reject out of hand what you’ve been told but balance that with what you experience for yourself.  Forewarned but NOT pre-judgmental.

Get away from the governmental system as much as possible.  Try navigating the first family relationships organically and as naturally as possible.  If possible, make contact with other extended first family members.  Extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents – can be absolute gold in a foster child’s life.

Realize that child protective services and social workers may not be motivated to assist you.  You may have to find the extended family yourself.  You can try searching on Facebook and reaching out to them privately and directly.  It would be a rare case that someone in the child’s genetic extended family didn’t want anything to do with these kids.  There would likely be someone who would love to be in their life and has been prevented with obstacles put in the way.

I want to be clear that I have never been a foster child or adopted, I have never been a foster parent or an adoptive parent and I have never been a biological/genetic parent who had my rights terminated.  I have been intensely educating my own self for 2-1/2 years (even since I began to learn the stories behind all of the adoptions in my own biological/genetic family).  I work very hard to gain an accurate understanding by considering and listening to ALL of the related voices and perspectives.  My desire is to be as balanced as possible, when I write blogs here.

Socially Acceptable Sin ?

It seems that it is socially acceptable to covet in this situation . . . You can’t have children and so you’re looking to take someone else’s child and make them your “own”.  That is the definition of adoption.

Not only coveting, but working to thwart God’s will ?  If God made you infertile…that is like saying “no babies for you”.  However, among prospective adoptive parents one often sees them interpreting their circumstances to read “God led us to adopt”.

If you believe in the Bible as the absolute definitive source of God’s perspective, then there are so many things so very wrong and not biblical about that perspective of yours.

How about this one ?  “The sins of the father shall be visited upon the sons.”

You cannot “adopt away” God’s curses or vengeance. Your infertility is a direct result of God’s will, and is a result of sin from way back in your blood line. Blood lines matter. Adopting is thwarting God’s will.

NOT that I personally believe in all that but you can’t have it YOUR way, if you are going to hold to religion as your excuse for everything.

Does your intention to convert this child to your religion make it all right with God ?  I couldn’t say.  I doubt it though.

Unfortunately, the history of humanity proves to me that religion is often an excuse to do whatever nasty deed one wants to do and know they have “God’s blessing” because you know, they got saved and are right with God now.

So let me guess and take this to it’s logical (or illogical actually) conclusion –

God causes fertile women have messed up lives so that they will chose to surrender their baby to adoption. The sole reason is so these “special chosen few” can take that baby for themselves because they are more favored by God ?

Just a reality check today on our lesson about coveting something that is someone else’s because you know, it was God’s will that they conceive and give birth to that child.  God does not make mistakes about who he gives children to.  Just saying – you can’t have it anyway you want it or can you ?  Maybe so.

No, You Don’t Deserve A Baby

Regarding adoption, one prospective couple wrote – “I want a baby not a full grown kid. My husband and I deserve a baby. We both crave a baby to raise as our own”.

I get that.  Not that I believe they deserve someone else’s baby but that they are hoping for that blank slate that Georgia Tann always advertised her babies as being.  Science has determined that isn’t the truth but anyway.

Another prospective adoptive couple stated, “Older children come with so many issues. You can’t mother an older child like an infant. Especially as first time parents”.  Though I was not a first time parent, my husband was.

When my husband decided he wanted to be a father, we did talk about adoption but decided that we wanted a truly blank slate as our beginning position.  We wanted to conceive and for me to carry our baby in my womb, give birth and breastfeed that baby for a reasonable length of time.  We did need considerable medical assistance and there was a compromise involved that seemed reasonable but still must be faced fully and accepted.  Which I believe I have for the most part.

Regarding the expense of adoption, someone was quoted as saying, “Adoption should be free like abortion is”.  Now that does blow my mind because abortion is not free.  I know.  I had one back in the mid-1970s.  There is a cost in dollars at the time and over the long run a cost mentally and emotionally with making such a significant decision.  I continue believe it was the right decision at the time I made it but that doesn’t equate to the reality being easy to live with.

Here is another statement that is absolutely not true – “If adoption wasn’t so expensive, there would be more kids who find homes”.  Fact is there are 4 couples wanting to adopt for every child available to be adopted.  That is one of the reasons that over the most recent decades, many couples have gone out of the United States to obtain a child to raise as their own.

One of the major interests among the members of the adoption community – original parents and adoptees – is reform.  Part of reform is actually raising awareness and changing perspectives.  That is the hope and the purpose for which I write a blog on related topics each day.

Angry At Mom

It is such a taboo but it is surprisingly common that in attempting a reunion, an adoptee will find themselves angry at their first mother.

Having experienced the wounds of abandonment, rejection and being given up for adoption, seeing stories of women handing their kids over to strangers is understandably triggering. Many of these moms are so blinded by the narrative that they don’t see the long term repercussions of the decision they are making.  Adoptees are shouting as loudly as possible and that is a good thing.  More expectant mothers are not allowing themselves to be pressured into making a permanent decision about a temporary condition (lack of financial resources or familial support).

There are groups for expectant mothers contemplating surrendering their baby and the reality is 99% of the women in those groups will pounce and fill her head with nonsense about how wonderful adoption is.  That is not a balanced perspective to make a decision from.  One should always seek out the most diverse perspectives about the really important decisions in life.

The truth is – nobody gets a say in being born or choosing biological parents (unless you believe as I do in eternal life and that such choices are actually made before birth with full awareness of the likely, though not certain, outcome) nor do they have a voice in being given up for adoption.  Voices filled with strong emotions always speak the loudest – be it the original parents, the adoptive parents or adoptees.

I have a very complicated story related to adoption.  I recognize that my story is not everyone’s. And I welcome anyone else’s opinion on adoption that needs to express themselves in their own way and in their own time.  We may agree to disagree about whatever but I will always seek to be respectful and considerate of each and every unique person and situation that comes my way.

Adoptees should not feel that they have to be grateful to anyone that is part of their adoption story.  My sons are both donor conceived.  We have never hidden that reality from them.  They would not exist otherwise.  I remember the oldest once said to us “Am I supposed to be grateful to her?”  We answered honestly, No but we are.

Life is never perfect.  Families are complicated.  Issues vary and hopefully, love prevails.  Sometimes love looks like removing one’s self from a relationship for one’s own well-being.  That is a valid choice as well.

 

Difficult Circumstances

In the world of children at risk there are adoptive parents and foster parents.  Beyond the children, there are their own natural parents to consider.  So, if you are raising someone else’s kids . . . maybe the natural parents don’t like you simply because you have their kids and they don’t.

Maybe they don’t agree with your parenting style, they think you are snooty, they don’t like going by your rules and parameters to see their children.  Maybe the natural parents sense you could cut them off from seeing their children.

Maybe if you are a foster parent, the natural parents worry you will fight against their getting their kids back.

Maybe either substitute parent just thinks you as the natural parent dress funny.

Bottom line, the substitute parents simply do not like you.

What would you as the natural parent do to improve a situation like this ?

Though it is not my situation, I’ve seen a similar situation up close and personal with my middle sister’s son.  It is actually a tragic circumstance where the paternal grandparents gained custody and the paternal grandmother attempted to poison my nephew against our family.  A situation that has not resolved itself and sadly – at the moment – he has closed the door to all contact with us.

Eye Of The Beholder

We need to talk to each other more.  We each have a perspective but it is not the whole picture.  We need to be able to hear the sadness, grief and anger.  We need to be able to hear the needs and good intentions.  We need to be able to hear the frustration of a young parent not receiving enough support to do what it is they were assigned to do when they conceived a child.

Perspective is everything but it need not be fixed in a rigid position.  We can expand upon what we are able to understand by seeking to hear from those others with a different view on a situation.

Money tends to rule too much of what is considered the right perspective in this country.  For too long, the rules have sided quite strongly with the perspective of those people with the money who desire for their position in the adoption triad to be inviolate.  We’ve allowed the legal system to put up walls to deny 2/3s of the triad any kind of rights in the circumstances.

Maybe I don’t have all of the answers to how we go about providing for the welfare of children in our society but I do believe that denying people their right to know where they came from or what became of a child they gave birth to and then lost – often for no better reason than poverty – can’t be the best answer.

Adoptees are speaking out.  Original parents who gave birth and then lost a child who is yet alive and living elsewhere are speaking out.  And the motivations and needs for security by people who are investing their time and resources to provide a stable and secure home for a child should be heard as well – but not to the degree that we deny the needs of other two limbs of this triad of persons.

Chosen Parents

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.