Choosing To Take That Risk

An adoptee offers a word of warning – to any hopeful adoptive parent who now wants to adopt, even though they already have biological kids:

Biological and adopted kids *should not be mixed*. Period.

Even if *you* believe you can treat your biological and adopted child equally (which is pretty fu****g rare), you cannot control how your biological child will treat their adopted sibling.

As somebody who has been treated absolutely *horrifically* by my adoptive mom’s biological kids, this has actually been the worst trauma of all, when it comes to my adoption.

And if you’re about to say “that isn’t always the case,” just stop for a second and consider these 2 things:

1. I don’t need to hear your “not all” bs, when I’m discussing the outright abuse I have experienced at the hands of my siblings, acquired by having been adopted.

2. If there is even a *miniscule* chance that your adopted child could experience what I have, and you wanna go through with it anyways, then you are selfish and careless. Imagine knowing that there is a possibility that your biological child may abuse or mistreat your adopted child, and you still chose to take that risk with a child’s life ?

And just today, I learned this statistic – even among biological siblings, sibling abuse is 5 times more common than spousal or parental abuse – it is actually the most common form of domestic abuse. And yet, adoptees also have an added layer of mental/emotional trauma due to having been relinquished by their original parents. The obvious difference between having been actually born to and having been brought into a family from different parents and circumstances is real and should not be dismissed.

One of those biological kids admits – Even though I love love love my adopted siblings and dote on them as much as possible, it does not erase the resentment. I resent them for “taking” my parents away and they resent us for being born to the family. They will NEVER know I resent them and even my parents don’t, but mixing adopted kids with biological kids is brutal on both sides. Then, goes on to give some additional context – 1) my siblings are far too young to have any idea & 2) I don’t feel upset that I’m not adopted. I do have a completely normal jealousy, at times, that they take attention away from me, since they’re the center of attention for the whole family. And I recognize that there will be obvious friction between me and the younger siblings, though it is not there at this present moment. In the future? Absolutely. And tries to clarify this – the resentment is towards my parents, the jealousy is towards my adopted siblings. Very different feelings. I never said the suffering on both sides was equal. Mine is typical sibling jealousy. My adopted siblings have a deep rooted trauma and a robbing of their history. I am working through it. I was already 19, when my younger adopted siblings moved in. My work is understanding that my parents don’t love/care about them more. They are simply young and traumatized. They require more care than I do. I am learning to understand the truth that I don’t need my parents as much as I often feel I do. I have an anxious attachment style with rejection sensitivity, a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life, so I am learning how that affects the way I feel about my parents.

So, the honest truth is – a HUGE percentage of adoptive parents WILL show favoritism towards their biological child, over their adopted child, whether they mean to or not. And the extended family treats them differently as well.

This, from experience – I would go as far to say, even if the adoptive parents have grown biological children. I freely tell people that I was adopted from foster care. I don’t normally share that when my adoptive parents died, their will left me in the custody of their eldest son and his family. Truth is, none of their three adult children ever agreed their parents should adopt me. When they died, I was kicked out of their son’s house and was told “nice to know you, you’re on your own now.” Adoption has so many layers that no one thinks about. And every time a hopeful adoptive parent or adoptee still in “the fog” (believing in the feel good narratives about adoption) counters a trauma or negative experience with their own beliefs, it not only insults and minimizes the pain they are responding to, but also minimizes the INFINITE number of situations they couldn’t possibly know about. Please stop pushing back against people with the lived experience who are trying to prevent even more trauma, by sharing your own limited experiences.

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).

Second Choice

“Trigger Warning – Miscarriage”

I have a fear of a baby I adopt growing up feeling like my second choice…I have had five miscarriages in a row, most second trimester where I had to birth a baby that was no longer alive. We want a baby so badly, and I think, if God allows us to adopt, that I will look back on this time as “the broken road, that led me to our child” but (if I’m honest) I would give anything to birth a live baby instead. Is it wrong to adopt, when you still wish you could carry and deliver your baby ? I don’t want my possible future child to feel like they were a second choice (but isn’t that how most moms usually come into adoption?) I want a live baby so much.

As one begins to learn about how adoptees feel and think, one learns that there is no getting beyond this if the adoptive mother experienced miscarriages or infertility first. The adoptee will always know deep down in their heart that they were a second choice regarding motherhood.

For hopeful adoptive parents who have experienced miscarriage or infertility, it is always recommended that they seek counseling first before moving on to trying to adopt, to at least resolve these issues clearly within their own selves. This will not prevent an adoptee from feeling this however.

Religious beliefs are too often tied in with adoption and the necessity of raising children. I’m not surprised that one commenter quickly asked – Why is it God ? (“if God allows us to adopt”) So many of these people are the first ones to tell others that whatever bad thing happened to you, wouldn’t have happened, if you’d made better choices or how God gave us freedom of choice, so take responsibility for our own actions – yet when it comes to something many Christians want -suddenly, it’s all about God’s will and God making it happen. I don’t know, maybe that’s so if it all goes to shit, they can blame that on God too, or say they were confused ?

Taking that a step further ? So odd when someone makes those miscarriages “God’s way to make them suffer, so they end up with someone else’s baby that they will always resent the reason for.” People twist situations to suit their beliefs and biases. To be clear, it’s wrong to adopt, when you have your own trauma consuming you. Deal with that first.

An acknowledged Christian makes these points – The Bible is in favor of caring for ORPHANS, which has a very limited definition. It doesn’t say to adopt or even to foster. The actual biblical definition of adoption is welcoming a new person into the family of God. Which can be done without actually adopting them. It can definitely be done without the next step of changing their name. The Bible places a high premium on lineage in the first testament. This is a pet peeve for this Christian. When people who have obviously never studied relevant passages to defend their decision to rip families apart, or keep them apart.

I do see the reality in this different perspective –  at least she’s honest about adoption being her second choice. She is not pretending. As an adoptee, I can deal with the truth a lot easier than the lies adoptive parents tell themselves to convince themselves to feel better about it. Then, they project that onto their kids…”we chose you”, “you were our plan all along”. It’s all BS. At least, she is owning her selfishness before, whether she continues to admit it once she adopts, is another matter altogether.

I’m not adopted, so maybe that’s why I feel more pity here than anger. I feel for her because her loss is obviously weighing on her mental state. Even so, she shouldn’t consider adoption until she’s healed her own traumas. I couldn’t imagine giving birth and seeing a lifeless baby. I don’t think I’d want to adopt or try again, personally. It is clear that she REALLY wants to be a mother, but to be a mother is to be selfless. It’s to put your wants in second and sometimes 3rd place, it’s long nights, it’s about the child and I don’t think she’s realized that yet. A child separated from their biological family NEEDS stability and more. This woman doesn’t seem stable.

And I agree with this assessment – she is deep in the trenches of her grief, and should not consider any further action until she seeks help with that. If she was to do the work and heal from her tragic losses – she may even see that she don’t want a baby as bad as she wants the babies she has lost. No baby or child, be it adopted or birthed by her, will fill that deep void.

Not A Blank Slate

One of the most enduring myths is that a baby is born as a blank slate that the parents get to write upon. The baby thief, Georgia Tann, used that concept as a marketing ploy for 30 years with adoptive parents but guess what ? The blank slate idea is alive and well.

Today, prospective adoptive couples are advertising on social media and adoptees find it very hard to take that without making comments from their own personal experience. One adoptee commented on one of these social media posts of a couple seeking a baby to adopt and got this response from another person there –

Babies actually are a blank slate. They are meant to be shaped, formed and nurtured by those that surround them. This family could be the second chance for a mother struggling with a difficult decision. I’m saddened to see your hate filled comments directed at a family who is struggling. Show some compassion.

The adoptee replied – I’m sorry you can’t have a child of your own. Adoption is not what you think. Babies are not blank slates and will forever yearn for their family. Please educate yourself prior to posting this stuff on Facebook and preying on a woman who is in need of support, she does not need strangers ripping away her child for their own self serving rights. Educate yourselves first. It’s preying on children. There is something bigger going on inside of your heart that you need to address. Get some support to help you heal and in the meantime, stop preying on humans.

Hopeful and already Adoptive Parents –

If you could look into the future and know that the child you will adopt will resent you for adopting them, for the actions you took to acquire them, for paying for them, would you continue the process? Does hearing what adoptees say in private, but keep from their adopters, give you a glimpse into what that future might be? (I share such stories here all the time.) If you knew for a fact that their thoughts and feelings would be in the same vein as what you hear from grown adoptees, would you still keep trying to adopt? If you knew the child you are seeking to adopt would commit suicide from the pain their adoption brought them, would you still keep trying?

But of course, hopeful and already adoptive parents live in la-la land for the most part and such warnings simply fall on deaf ears.

Opportunistic Dependency

In life, one often learns who they must say “no” to, because to say “yes” is never a temporary response but an open door to repeated requests, that eventually cause resentment and regret. Sadly, this is often the case in families. I’ve seen it more than once as I am certain most readers here will have as well. Today’s blog is focused on the story of an adoptee reunion. The young woman is somewhat like my mom was – always knew she was adopted and though she yearned for contact with her mother, was unable to achieve that before she died. From what I have learned from my mom’s cousins about my maternal grandmother, she would not have been like the one in my story below –

I was adopted at birth and raised by a wonderful family. From birth (or old enough to understand) I was told about the adoption and what that meant, it was a closed adoption. I never thought about it much while growing up. I just knew I was adopted and the chances were low I would ever get to know them (birth parents) and I was ok with that. I know others deal with it differently, I didn’t have much of a desire to know the back story.

Fast forward to when I was 27, my husband and I were googling our birthdays and the first post I saw was from an adoption website from a birth mom trying to find her daughter. Low and behold that daughter was me! I was shocked and overwhelmed, and thought it was my duty to reach out to say thank you!

I learned she was only 13 when she had me, others choices were available and she chose life for me. On my first attempt to reach out, she needed more time. She admitted she was on drugs and didn’t want me to know her like that.

A couple years passed by and she reached out again. It has not been a happy 5 years. She constantly pesters me with – can you give me money ?, can you give me shelter ?, can you help me ? And when I kindly say no, she responds with rage. Complete and utter anger. She doesn’t want to know anything about me, just wants to exploit her relationship with me.

I’m a super kind person but I know better than to give her anything monetary. It has reached a point where the relationship is toxic and I don’t want to be a part of it any longer. When I try to break it off, she says she is suicidal and will kill herself if I don’t comply with her requests.

To be honest, I wish I had never opened the reunion box. But I did. Now I don’t know what to do. What if she kills herself ? I would feel so responsible. All of this is so so so hard on me!!! What would you do ? And could you live with that choice for the rest of your life ?

Tomorrow, I’ll share some of the advice she received from sharing her story.

Misperceptions

I don’t know where these people get ideas like this.  Here’s today’s story –

“So when I talked to the foster care recruiter she basically said I can’t license you for the age group you want (0-3).  You will have to do 0-18. I don’t want to do older kids because I’m only 25 and all my kids are 7 and under. She said we would only be allowed 1 child because we are going to have another baby soon.  We would have 5 biological children (though one is stepchild, who is only with us weekends).  Our state limits the number of children in a fostering home to 6 total. OK, I’ll be honest, I was really hoping to adopt a little girl since all of our children are boys.  Well the foster care recruiter basically dashed my hopes. Based on the rules, it looks like we won’t be able to foster kids until we’re old and our kids are grown.  This makes me sad. We have the room in both our hearts and our home for lots of foster children but because of the limit on how many kids we can have in our house, we are just stuck with the kids we already have.  I am brokenhearted because I really wanted to be a ‘girl mom’.  Even thought I know the goal of foster care is family reunification, what I really want is to foster to adopt.”

This is a real person.

One woman suggested – “become a Big Sister or volunteer with the Girl Scouts with that ‘room in your heart’.”

Another woman shared this – “I was raised in a church where people were expected to have big families… The first thing it does is make the oldest kids grow up way too fast. They usually end up half raising the youngest ones.  The other thing it does is divide up the parent’s attention waaaaay too much. My friends from huge families often felt like their parents didn’t know them well.  So yeah, I’m glad they are limiting this person and not allowing them to pack some really young kids in there.”

Another woman noted – “If this woman could have her way, her boys would grow up to resent the little girl, because they would know that they’re second best to the girl their mother so desperately wanted.  Nothing entitles a person to take another mother’s baby and that should certainly be true when a couple already has five wonderful children of their own.  How selfish and ungrateful can one person be ?!?”

One woman admitted – “My grandmother had two sons and then adopted a daughter.  She favored all her granddaughters over her grandsons too, which really impacted my cousins who lived near her.  The daughters of her daughter were the most prized.”

One replied directly to the woman who’s story leads this blog with this – “Do IVF and a designer baby. Sounds like you’re super fertile anyway, so maybe easier than you think. Talk to a fertility specialist.” And then added this reality check, “It’s gonna break your heart more if it isn’t forever when you have that infant in your arms and then the baby is returned to her rightful family . . . because honestly, reunification is the goal, as it should be, as long as it is safe for the child to be returned.”

And this, “I taught classes for prospective adopters and for a long time the #1 reason for picking China was the virtual guarantee if a girl, a ‘china doll’ (usually named Lily or the like. ) It is so incredibly harmful to a child to be adopted for their gender. It puts that child in a gender straight jacket. Same for sex selection sperm treatments and sex selection IVF etc. But especially for adoptees. This kind of perspective is heartbreaking.”

 

Just Don’t

Some honest advice from someone who has been where you may be now . . . .

Just need to get this off my chest. Any expectant moms reading this that are considering adoption, please do not do it, not even an open adoption. My daughter has spent this past two weeks with us and she was so happy. She went home to her adoptive parents today and asked to spend another two weeks with us. Well adoptive mother just sent me a message that they spoke to a social worker and that their attorney will contact us this week, so I guess they are getting a restraining order. My hands are tied as legally I can’t do anything because of a piece of paper I signed 13 years ago. So please never consider adoption as the better choice for your baby because it will torture you the rest of your life and your child’s life as well.

And this child won’t have more rights in adolescence.   Adoptees do not have the same rights that non-adopted people have. For some reason, the courts care more about making the adoptive parents happy with their purchase than they do about the best interests of the child.

Someone asks this woman – They sent her to you for two weeks and now won’t let her come back ? Why is she involving an attorney ?

So, some more of this sad story – my daughter threatened to hurt herself, if she can’t be with us – so they sent her to spend two weeks with us. Picked her up today.  Now because she wants to stay longer with us, they want to get restraining order. I have evidence of some physical abuse that she has suffered being with them.

Expectant moms – you do NOT want this to happen to your precious child !!

Some good legal perspective with which I agree – They may find that they can’t get a restraining or protection order over this, depending on the jurisdiction. Simply because your child wants to spend time with you doesn’t rise to the level of an order against you in many places.  Also, if they try to get a protection or restraining order against you, you have the right to defend yourself and be involved in the court case.

On the other hand – People get restraining orders all the time for frivolous reasons. Courts pass them out like candy on Halloween. You don’t even need to have any evidence. Orders of protection are used more often to harass and control people than they are for actually protecting people.

Another woman added more cautions for expectant moms – Anyone who wants to terminate your legal rights to your own child does NOT have your child’s best interests in mind. Nor is that ever in your best interests.  Someone who truly wanted to help a child, would’ve stepped in as a mentor, God parent, adoptive aunt/uncle figure. Don’t trust anyone with your children. Once you do, there is NOTHING you can do to protect your child from that person.

And for adoptive parents who may be dealing with a situation like this – consider what stopping visitation does to your adopted child.  That is guaranteed to cause resentment against you and heap more trauma on them.  Consider your next steps very thoughtfully.

 

 

Modern Orphanages

From a generally anti-foster care perspective, a question was asked –

Why did the government move away from orphanages/group homes to children living with foster carers ?  Bottom line is that it is about money.  It is cheaper for the government to give foster carers a stipend than provide for the full needs of children in a modern orphanage or group home.

My mom spent a few months as an infant at Porter-Leath, an orphanage in Memphis TN. Her original mother took my mom there only for temporary care while she tried to get on her feet and estranged from her husband, the father of my mom, who was most likely tied up one state over fighting a SuperFlood on the Mississippi in 1937. He was in Arkansas working for the WPA and that was where most of his own roots and family were. That is how Georgia Tann got involved and my mom ended up adopted.

My family visited Porter-Leath in 2017. It is now an amazingly peaceful place and much changed but still provides some sheltering for runaways who need a safe place to go.

The discussion was not about orphanages of the past though.  It was about facilities that are geared towards children’s best interests. A revamped system. An environment where the kid never has to become someone else to fit in with a family he isn’t related to. One that is very consistent and stable.  That is vital for kids.

And no competition with a foster carer’s biological kids, or being made to feel like a burden or an inconvenience compared to the carer’s biological children. Modern orphanages are really structured.  Everyone there is on the same playing field. It totally eliminates the foster vs biological conflicts. The experience of former foster youth is that biological kids are horrible towards foster kids. Full of disdain and resentment for these strangers being in their homes.

I was intrigued by the mention of modern orphanages, I found a link to an Atlantic article highlighting Palmer Home for Children in Mississippi that is fairly current.

Lying About The Family Relationship

It is hard to believe but it happens.  Siblings will be raised in proximity to one another without knowing they are siblings.

In one such story, an adoptive parent had her child spending time with that child’s biological siblings who had been adopted by another family member but these children are not informed that they are siblings.

In another story, though not related to an adoption – a woman grew up playing with her sister as a child but not knowing that she was related to her.  That reality was kept from her.

She goes on to share – “the anger and resentment I have toward my dad and her mom for trying to keep us apart for literally no reason than their own selfishness. I had to sneak and lie and use the pay phone at school to call her and pretend to be a friend of a friend to be able to talk to her to start building our relationship. I was 14 and she was 11. We are each other’s only sisters.”

These LIES bring anger and trauma when the truth finally comes out and in these modern times, it is easier than ever for that eventuality to occur.  It really is hard imagine what these children will feel one day, knowing their parents had them play together as cousins, when they were really siblings.

Some adoptive parents take the perspective that they are the legitimate parent now, and the other kinship parents involved are the other kids parents now.  They will each parent them the way they want. My parents were both adopted and I know that my dad’s way of coping with all of his unknowns was to sever any attachment to the original parents.  As far as he was concerned, once adopted, you no longer belong to the original family.  I have never agreed with his opinion about that but maybe it simply made things easier for him as two of his grandchildren (one with each of my two sisters) were surrendered to adoption.  Hard to believe but true.

Those of us who understand with better clarity must keep planting seeds of awareness …. and keep trying …. and continue educating.

Open Adoption

One good in our modern time is an effort to do adoption better, to consider the impacts of mother/child separations and not to change identities and birth certificates to make the adoptive parents feel better.

Here are some preconceived notions about open adoption –

  • Open adoption is basically co-parenting.
  • Adopted children grow up hating their birth mothers.
  • Adopted children grow up hating their adoptive parents.
  • Most open adoption relationships between adoptive parents and birth parents eventually break down.
  • When they’re older, adopted children eventually return to live with their birth parents.

Are these myths or truths?  They are myths.  Here are some accepted understandings about what open adoption is and is not.

In open adoption, the line between family members is clearly defined. The adoptive parents and birth parents do not have shared custody. Adoptive parents are legally responsible for all decisions relating to their child’s welfare. Birth parents are often involved in the children’s lives, but they do not have legal rights over the child.

Children understand the difference between their adoptive parents and their birth parents, and what their roles and responsibilities are. And so do both sets of parents.

Open adoption allows adopted children to having an ongoing relationship with their birth parents. As a result, they have the ability to ask their birth parents questions surrounding their adoption, making them less likely to have doubts or to feel bitterness towards their parents.

Adoptive parents usually introduce their child’s adoption story at a young age. Unlike in the past, it’s not something hidden from them. Because children know their adoption story, there is less chance of them creating a fantasy about their origins. And also there is less resentment about their adoption since it is something that is openly discussed and a part of their life from an early age.

Although some open adoption relationships do break down because of disagreements between adoptive parents and birth parents, the vast majority of them are successful. Because most open adoption agreements are NOT legally binding, the key is to create lasting relationships based on mutual understanding and respect. For the sake of their children, birth parents and adoptive parents must be willing to not only acknowledge but honor each other’s role in this relationship.

For most adopted children, home will be considered that which was their home with the adoptive family. That’s where they were raised and that’s where they usually live, until they are old enough to move out and live independently as an adult. Adopted child are almost always interested in their birth family, but they usually do not go back to living with them, except in cases of family reunification.