Adoptees Know These

The first comment I saw on this image went something like this – Interesting how it’s “aren’t your adoptive parents enough?” AND “don’t you want to meet your REAL family?”

A more interesting one was this story – last year one of my friends’ mothers introduced me to his father and his stepfather by saying this is my husband, and this is my son’s “real” father.. I said “does he have a fake father?” Her face was priceless and she hemmed and hawed trying to clean it up.

In these modern times when effort is made to reform the whole perspective around adoption it can be hard to know what the right way to say something is. Early on, I was advised not to use “birth mother” but simply mother or if an identifier was necessary – natural or original. A mother is a mother and all of them give birth. Someone who doesn’t give birth is not necessarily a “mother” though they may be understood as such, they are more accurately a parent.

Unpacking a few more . . . the I would rather have been aborted comes up more often among adult adoptees than the general public might believe. It is hurtful to be asked, “Why would you ever want to meet someone who gave you up?” Maybe simply to answer the question – why? I know that is the question I had regarding my own parents original parents (both of my parents were adopted). Even though I can’t ask my grandparents direction because they have all died, I have learned enough to form some realistic theories about the reasons.

There are a LOT of adoptees who don’t feel “lucky” to have been adopted. When there is extreme mental damage in a parent, maybe then. Most I have encountered would not refer to themselves as “lucky”.

It is true that it isn’t possible to change the past and a complication for my own self is that if my parents were not adopted, I would not exist. I do feel lucky that my teenage mother was not sent off to have and give me up. I credit my dad’s adoptive mother for keeping me in the family. If I had been given up, I would still exist and my original parents would still have been the same people but I would have been raised by other parents and my two younger siblings may not have ever been born because our parents may not have married after such a rupture in the family unit.

Everything that happens – matters. An adoptee can feel like they had a good life (as my own mother did) and still want to know about their origins (as my own mother did). My dad seems to have been content with who his parents were and how they treated him (though the first adoptive father turned out to be an alcoholic and was kicked out of the home by my dad’s adoptive mother – she did remarry and my dad was adopted a second time when he was already 8 years old). My dad never seemed to want to know anything about his origins. I have wondered if he was afraid of what he would find out. He told my mom regarding her own desires, “you might open up a can of worms.” That is telling in my own heart.

Many adoptive parents actually do adopt to SAVE some kid from some fate worse than death which they imagine would have been the outcome otherwise. This is called saviorism and is very common among evangelical Christians.

You can interpret the rest however your heart whispers to you.

Sadly Needing A Second Chance

It is a sad fact but more common than anyone could ever wish for that some adoptions fail and give rise to attempts to have someone else re-adopt a child.  What are the issues?

Audrey recently turned 8 and was adopted domestically when she was 6. She has a very strained, competitive relationship with the other child in her adopted family and has failed to form a healthy attachment to the family. They feel that Audrey will be happier, calmer and more likely to attach to a family who has no other children in the home under the age of 12 (a mature child). A family who is familiar with attachment issues would be a plus! Her family is willing to consider a single parent without other children to take their focus away from Audrey, as well as a 2-parent family.

Yet, consistently, these second chance “offerings” go on to describe the child in very glowing terms.

Audrey’s adopted parents describe her as creative, funny, sometimes stubborn, flexible, playful, helpful and artistic. She enjoys playing with Barbies and practicing her mothering skills with her Baby Alive doll. She is a great helper when she is one-on-one with someone. She likes to help with food prep, cleaning, and laundry, and likes to hear that she’s done a good job. Audrey has a set bedtime and falls asleep quickly. She sometimes likes to read a book before lights out.  She enjoys painting and often uses drawing as a means of communicating her feelings and memories. She loves to play board and card games. She can be very funny and sweet, especially when she feels that you are giving her your full attention. She is a mix of girlie-girl and tomboy—she likes dressing up in her mom’s high heels and wearing makeup; but will also play in the mud, climb trees and ride her bike. She is keen on taking off her training wheels soon so she can ride her bike independently!

Audrey has a good imagination and can easily entertain herself. She is a fairly organized child—neither messy nor overly organized. She likes to read and is currently enjoying Fancy Nancy and Dr. Seuss books. She is obsessed with unicorns, so if she can find a book about those, she will read it too! Her favorite foods are peanut butter, pizza and Indian food. She has a different favorite color for every day! Her adopted mom will say, “What’s your favorite color today?”

Audrey is in the 2nd grade, does very well in school and loves school. She gets mostly A’s. She loves the structure, the friends, the teachers and the social aspect. She attends a private school with a small teacher/student ratio and she thrives in this environment. Math is her favorite subject; she enjoys the challenge of solving problems. Her teachers report that she is “a joy to have in class—wonderful and sweet!” She is a worker bee—she loves to be given a task to accomplish for the teacher.

What is it about adoption that causes such a contradiction in the description of a child’s personality?  It is the fact that trauma is present and too often adoptive parents don’t want to work through the core issues with patience and tolerance.  They only want harmony and so if an adopted child is seen by them as the source of disharmony in their family – then they will seek to be rid of the child as though human beings can simply be thrown away if their use is not satisfying.