Placating Adoptive Mother Emotions

It is just a difficult path to trod. Today’s story –

My son’s birthday is coming up soon. The last time I posted publicly about my kids was the anniversary of the final visit, and their adoptive mother got upset that I said anything. She enlisted my younger child for her defense. They asked me to not post anything ever again, because the adoptive mother doesn’t want to see it. Yet she continues to stalk me to see what I’m posting. I suspect that if I let a birthday slide by without saying anything, she’d use it as evidence that I’d completely forgotten about my kids. I’m not sure what the adoptive mother wants me to feel – am I supposed to regret having kids at all? Am I supposed to blame myself for surviving abuse? I know that, of course, I wish I’d taken the kids and gotten away from him before Child Protective Services got involved. Acknowledging that at this point is not going to make the adoptive mother any happier. I suspect that she wants from me is to admit that I’m just a horrible person and be grateful to her for saving my kids from me. I want to do what’s right for my kids long-term, and if the adoptive mother needs to control what I feel and say about the adoption, how much freedom is she giving them? Is there anything I could post that might get the adoptive mother to react like a reasonable human and not like some an obsessed control freak? PS it’s the older child’s 19th birthday. The younger one who is 16 has basically taken responsibility for handling the adoptive mother’s emotional state, because the adoptive mother throws temper tantrums to get her way and must be appeased.

The first responder said – I would acknowledge his birthday. He’s 18 – so old enough to tell you himself if he doesn’t want you to post anything. He’s also old enough to no longer be her property. Just as a side note have you tried reaching out to him to see if he would like contact directly with you now that he’s old enough?

I can relate to the difficulties. My daughter went to live with her dad when she was 3 years old. He remarried, so there was a step-mother, a step-sister and a half-sister in her family. I gave her a calling card, so that when it was safe (meaning it wouldn’t cause an upset) for her to call me, she could choose when. Sometimes, I had to wait a long time for those calls but at least she knew I wanted to hear from her. In an adoption situation, I don’t know if something like that would be possible but there is always reversing charges. What I cared about the most, was my daughter’s comfort and quality of life – not my own.

Social media didn’t exist when my daughter was young. I can easily understand the next responder’s comment – This is one reason why I keep my profile completely locked down with no public posts. Nobody gets to tell me how to feel about MY kids.

Someone else noted this obvious truth – you did give birth to your children and have every right to acknowledge their birthday. A birthday not only celebrates the day a child became an independent person but also the mother who gestated that child to birth. Many times, when I am celebrating one of my children’s birthdays on my Facebook page, friends will also acknowledge it is my celebration of an event as well.

Sadly, this perspective contains a frequent truth – some adoptive parents are control freaks. They would like to erase the fact that the adopted children are not biologically related to them, the children are possessed like property that the adoptive parents bought to furnish their life. The natural mother should post whatever she wants… one day her children may see it and realize they were loved all along! It will mean so much to them to know that. I know that understanding would have meant a lot to my own adoptee parents (both were).

And when all else fails – There are features that allow you to block specific people from posts. It’s strategic avoidance of the real problem, but sometimes that’s the best you can do. Anyway, as long is the posts aren’t abusive or causing damage to anyone, then she really should have zero say about what you post to your wall. Her discomfort is her own. You don’t need to carry that for her.

And the perspective from an adoptive parent – I’m so sorry that not only did she express unhappiness with you saying something, but that she enlisted the children into her unhappiness with you. That’s just, WRONG. It sounds like she is very insecure in her position as parent, and wanting you to remove yourself from yours to give her more room. You don’t have to do that. I believe that what is right for your children long term, is for them to KNOW that they were always on your mind and in your heart. I personally think that it is fine for you to make a post in regards to your children’s birthdays. Growing and birthing a human being is a MAJOR thing that happens to us as the person doing it, not just to the baby. I’m guessing that there are other people who follow you on Facebook who know about your children, maybe were even a part of their lives… Just because someone else is legally their parent now, does not change the fact that there were people in the children’s lives BEFORE. People who’s hearts and memories and emotions did not just disappear because of a court order. If possible, tighten up your security. If you’re friends with her on Facebook, exclude her from your posts if you feel the need. But please feel free to acknowledge your children, your love, and your loss however you feel you need to.

Heal Yourself First

Couples need to heal from their infertility and come to grips with not being able to conceive a child before inflicting themselves on a traumatized adoptee. Much of what you will read in today’s blog comes from an adoptee writing on this issue – The Importance of Fully Grieving Infertility. I have chosen what I share here selectively and have added my own thoughts as well. You can read the original blog at the link.

Receiving a diagnosis of infertility is a devastating loss. It’s natural to feel angry, sad, disappointed or a combination of a bunch of different feelings. You may want to start the process of becoming a parent through other means as soon as possible, in an effort to fill that aching, empty space in your heart.

Please don’t start the process of adopting a child until you have fully grieved your infertility, let go of your initial dream of having a biological child, and are truly ready to adopt.

Why? Because, when you pursue adoption, your infertility journey will affect more than just you.

Adoption is not a solution for infertility. Pretending it is — without doing the hard, personal work — will just set you and your future adopted child up for failure.

You’ve probably heard it time and time again from your infertility counselors and adoption professionals. But I think you should hear it from an adoptee — someone who will be forever changed if you are unable to move forward from your losses.

As an adoptee, I’ve watched infertility take its toll on my parents, friends and family members. Even just having seen the effects secondhand, it’s clear that this is often a diagnosis that causes lasting emotional and psychological damage.

About 1 in 8 couples will struggle with infertility. That’s a lot of people walking around with a lot of pain in their hearts.

This is a loss, and as such, you may experience the stages of grief. As hard as it is to believe, this is actually a good thing, because it means you are processing your loss and are on the road to the final stage: acceptance. And only once you feel acceptance should you start considering adoption.

If you don’t resolve your experience with infertility, it could cause serious mental, emotional and physical harm to yourself and to those around you. You may start to resent your partner, your emotions might develop into depression, you risk not feeling able to find happiness because of the lingering hopes and dreams of “maybe we’ll still get pregnant,” and all of that stress can take a toll on your physical health.

Unresolved issues can affect all of your relationships — the relationship with your partner, with yourself, with your friends (who all seem to easily have children) and eventually, upon your adopted child. Moving forward into adoption under these circumstances may feel like you are “settling” for your “second-choice” way to build your family, and that’s not fair to the child you may adopt.

I don’t write this blog to promote adoption (I think it is all around a harmful choice). So I can hope that adoption isn’t your own answer for building your family. I do know that you staying stuck in grief isn’t good for you or the ones you love either. You may ultimately decide to live child-free. What is important here is seeking a good quality of life by working through your feelings and letting the unproductive perspectives go. 

Adopting a child does not fix anything. There is no replacement for your original dream of conceiving and giving birth to a biological child. When you’re an adoptee, viewing the world’s preoccupation with having biological children is hard. It’s probably hard for couples who discover they are infertile. That is one of the reasons it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that you will never have a biological child. It is unfair and unrealistic to believe any infertile, potential adoptive set of parents will no longer experience grief over not having biological children after they adopt. One of the reasons I don’t believe adoptions are actually a good thing. Honestly (and adoption is ALL over my own birth family – both of my parents were adopted and each of my sisters gave up children to adoption – I wouldn’t exist but for my parents’ adoptions and even so . . . my perspective has changed over the last several years, obviously).

Why Is Adoption So Common Here ?

It’s a known fact that other countries have very few adoptions annually. Some as few as 100-300. This is vastly lower than the US obviously. One of the main contributing factors is the better social programs in those countries.  We don’t have that in the US.  Other countries focus on helping families stay together.

I do believe that if we provided families with what they needed, like some of these other countries do, the percentage of parents losing their children would be significantly lower.  Domestic infant adoption would basically cease to exist.

What needs to change for there to be fewer adoptions overall ?

Some thoughts in answer to that question . . .

Universal healthcare and an adequate minimum wage.  Readily available, affordable childcare for working families.  Both generous paid maternity and paternity leave. Paid vacation time which allows for families to create happy memories (I had that in my 50s and 60s era childhood). A good educational system.  Just the basic stuff I grew up believing this country provided (even if it wasn’t actually the truth, which I now understand in maturity).

I do believe that if we actually supported families, the adoption rate might drop 80%.  I do believe the vast majority of adoptions are caused by poverty or I would imagine if we actually supported all moms, it would reduce it by at least 80%. I do believe the vast majority of adoptions are caused by poverty or religion based coercion utilizing shame to get young women to give up their child.

The nature of capitalism is such, that society won’t do these things to keep families thriving.  It isn’t that we can’t, if the tax structures were in place to raise taxes on the wealthy.  Many people in our society have bought the Republican line about Trickle Down Economics.  The belief that if we help the 1% have more, they will help the rest of us do better too. That has never proven a reality – plain and simple.

Until we as a society decide that every citizen is worthy of a good quality of life, broken families will continue to be way too common.

Case in point – Australia.  They don’t have an exorbitant income tax, but they do have universal health care, subsidized childcare, parental leave, sick leave, a minimum wage etc. Support payments are available to family members who take on caring roles. So do the UK and New Zealand.

If one looks at the number of children adopted each year in Australia, the number is about 300.  That’s ALL children who are adopted from infants to teens. They do not have an adoption “market” (yes, it is a BIG $$$ business in the US).  Taxes in Australia may be higher than in the US but they know that they are getting plenty of services in return.

Sadly, the problem here in the US is entrenched inequality and cultural bigotry.  Many countries outside of the US have much better social programs – most EU countries, Canada, Switzerland and Australia.  Knowing this, it is pretty amazing that this country won’t do better.  We are the richest nation in the world, but most of our money goes into the pockets of our richest citizens.  America is the country with the most billionaires in the world.

It is way past time for a change. That change requires accessible, affordable family planning (birth control and terminations), no private for profit adoption agencies and an end to the manipulation and coercion (Christian) of expectant mothers.

Sadly, adoption has become so ingrained in the American worldview as a means to getting a child that our society is hostile to the idea of children staying with who they were born to. It is all about who has money and who doesn’t.  Anyone with the financial means who wants a child is basically able to, in effect, buy one from someone who doesn’t have the financial means to help their family stay together.  Money is the driver of the for profit adoption complex. Sadly, given all I have shared above, I don’t see any of it changing any time soon.  I wish I could be more optimistic about it.

Exactly How Is It PRO Life ?

The latest manifestation of “caring” among some conservative people is that we should allow massive amounts of death among the old or immune compromised and just get back to work and crowding public places.

When it comes to MONEY it is clear that Pro-Lifers are really only pro birth.  Once that baby is born, they could care less about the quality of life.  And for some, even better, please surrender that baby to us.  We will BUY your baby through adoption and we could care less about the pain and trauma that you and that baby go through due to our selfishness.

I know this sounds harsh.  I’m not in a generous mood at the moment.  With the Coronavirus, the new trajectory for these Pro-Life people is – let’s sacrifice the old folks on the altar of pandemic and get this over as quickly as possible – so we can go back to living like we want to.

Yesterday, the United States set a new record – the highest single day death count on the planet since this virus began spreading.  And still, they support this president – who lied to us about how lethal this disease was going to be and who did NOTHING to prepare for it.  Even now, he projects blame everywhere else but accepts NO responsibility for his own failure to take this threat seriously in the earliest stages (or even before it reached our own shores from China).

Forgive my rant.  I wonder how many of these people will crowd their churches for Easter ?  Maybe this country would be better off without them – though I wish no one to die from this wretched enemy of too many people.

Too many are Pro life unless you are old, poor or in jail.  Then, they could care less – really.

Life

This is an annual event and I have done a lot of thinking about it.  I am in favor of access to abortion being safe and legal.  I believe it is always an unfortunate choice but I continue to believe the choice should be there.  As a spiritual person, I do not believe we can make a mistake.  I believe that the Divine knows what we will do before we do it and uses that.  I also believe that every life is precious, should be valued and cared for.  I believe this makes me pro-Life but does not make me anti-abortion.  Many pro-lifers are simply pro-birth but not concerned about the quality of the life they insist needs to be born after it emerges from the womb.  They also seem to be totally unconcerned with the impacts of an explosive population growth on our environmental quality.  This is just how I see it and I do not need for anyone else to see it the same way I do.

In 1956, economists Christopher Cundell and Carlos McCartney designed the quality-adjusted life year, also know as QALY.  Health-care systems have used it extensively ever since to evaluate the costs and benefits of various medical interventions. It takes the number of remaining years someone would be expected to live, and, if that person is expected to live in perfect health, multiplies it by one—and by a smaller number if the person will be, for example, paralyzed.

Quality of life is certainly an important issue with me.  If I were to be diagnosed with a cancer that would likely end in death, no matter how it is treated, I would prefer to make the most of my remaining time and forego treatment.  I would prefer not to torture myself with medical interventions if the result will be the same and my quality of life will be worse before I die.  That is just the way I see it.  I probably won’t have to face a cancer diagnosis but will probably be fortunate enough to meet an irrevocable end (ie a heart attack as my parents and grandparents did).

Both of my parents were adopted and until recently when I learned about my original grandparents we had no idea what our family health history included.  It appears that all of my grandparents most likely did die of heart attacks, though my paternal grandmother was just being released from the hospital after successful breast cancer surgery when she had her fatal event.

And I am grateful I wasn’t aborted or given up for adoption.  I am grateful I have had a decently good life.  I did have an abortion in the late 70s (I believe that was the time frame).  It was safe and I didn’t have to face a bunch of protesters going in.  It was emotionally traumatic and I struggled with my own personal ethical misgivings.

One day, in my heart’s mind, I heard “I am coming.”  I did believe that was the soul of the child I gave up in the physical sense.  Eventually, my son did arrive and he does not carry my genes but he did grow in my womb and nurse at my breast.  I will ever think of him as my atonement child.  He has also allowed me to prove to myself that I can raise children (as I gave up my daughter to her father when he wouldn’t pay child support and I could not financially provide for us).

I do NOT believe any person should put their values upon other people whose shoes they have not walked in.  Bottom line.