Refreshing

It is refreshing to encounter an adoptive parent with such clarity about her adopted child. Heron Greenesmith writes at Parents.com – Please stop calling my adopted daughter ‘lucky.’

She writes – I “would have given anything for her to be with her biological family instead.” It was not a newborn infant that was adopted but a 5 yr old child. “Love can be burden, particularly if you are a 5 year old who has never met these people who know everything about you.”

It was as she wrote about her experience on social media that she was told – “She’s so lucky.” – perhaps a thoughtless platitude, a senseless nothing typed quickly into a comment bar.   “Lucky girl to have such dedicated parents!” (Dedicated? Why did that word carry so much power to imply that adoption was somehow more work than literally creating an entire human in one’s body?)

And here is why she does not consider her daughter lucky – her daughter was taken away from her natural parents and siblings. She experienced indescribable grief and trauma at an age before many of us even begin to understand that level of misfortune is possible. She also sees a young child who walks through life with the burden of knowing one may lose what one loves without warning.

She admits that some parents are unable to keep their kids healthy and safe. Our nation’s child-welfare services are designed to support these families in need. They are supposed to keep kids healthy and safe while parents are getting the assistance they need. And if further tragedy strikes and parents are wholly unable to care for their children, the system turns its gears and tries to find a new home for the child.

She is also not comfortable with the reasons that some people may consider her adopted daughter lucky – Lucky to be with parents in a higher tax bracket? What does that say to the children in low-income families whose parents are keeping them healthy and safe? Does it tell them that poverty itself is justification for removing kids from their parents? And too often, poverty is the justification for removing children from their biological families.

She writes “there is nothing I would not give for her to have been safe, fed, and clean in her first home, without having to have gone through hell first.” “She is incredibly unlucky and will spend her life carrying her tragedy with her. It is our job to help her understand her tragedy and help her carry it.” She remembers that first day and a terrified kid being driven in a car by people she’d met two weeks earlier to a new house where she’d live “forever.” But she is also aware that to her daughter, “forever” doesn’t truly exist.

Surrogacy Controversy

I know of more than one family who used a surrogate to build their family. Because I do believe in the mother/child bond beginning and developed during pregnancy, I do have concerns about separating this infant after birth from their mother. With changing perspectives on LGBTQ rights, some an now arguing that having a female mother is not really important. Certainly, there are cases of maternal abuse where a child may have been better off without that mother. I won’t argue that specific point.

So without getting into those hot button issues, I wanted to know about any reasons that surrogacy might be considered controversial.

I go into this at a website that could be biased – American Surrogacy. With that awareness, I still read their perspective.

As my graphic illustrates, there is more than one type of surrogacy. Gestational surrogacy is the most common type of surrogacy today, in which the surrogate has no genetic relationship to the baby she carries. The other type is Traditional surrogacy which is considered rare in modern times. In this type, the surrogate’s own egg is fertilized using sperm from an intended father or donor via IVF or intrauterine insemination in a lab.

Surrogacy can also be categorized by the financial arrangements made between the intended parents and surrogate. This is known as Compensated surrogacy in which the surrogate is compensated for her time, energy, sacrifice and participation in the surrogacy process. Something similar happens in Egg Donation where the egg donor is compensated for similar reasons. In Altruistic surrogacy the surrogate is not paid a base compensation beyond reimbursement of her medical and legal expenses.

There is no shortage of people ready to point out reasons why surrogacy is “bad” or “wrong.” However, when examining the arguments against surrogacy, it’s important to keep in mind the various types of surrogacy; not all of these arguments will apply to every type of surrogacy completed today.

One argument is that a woman is “selling” something intimate as a physical service. As explicitly noted in my graphic – many critics of surrogacy argue that intended parents who “use” surrogates are interested only in their reproductive ability. The practice is seen as womb renting, especially when the woman carrying the pregnancy is in a financially disadvantageous position to the intended parents. This is also an argument used against egg donation. Some argue against it for religious reasons – Many religions emphasize the importance of a husband and wife conceiving naturally on their own. For this reason, any kind of assisted reproduction is sometimes viewed as going against religious beliefs.

Regarding the compensation argument – it is noted that – a significant commitment of time and personal care is required of a surrogate.  There are protections in place to ensure vulnerable women are not forced into surrogacy in the United States. If a surrogacy professional is enlisted, these do require a woman to be able to support their own self and if relevant, their family, without state assistance before being allowed to be a surrogate. Surrogacy professionals work closely with intended parents and surrogates to ensure the rights and interests of both are protected and any legal risks have been eliminated.

Given my own personal perspectives on bonding in utero – this site caught my attention too.

The Overlooked Risks of Surrogacy for Women. The intended parents may not feel the degree of control with a surrogate carrying their baby. Surrogacy can also bring unexpected challenges for the surrogate mothers. The female body experiences numerous changes when pregnant, both physical and mental, thanks or no thanks to the hormones that bring about the miracle of life. So, like any mother, surrogate moms bond with a child in their wombs often experience emotional pain when detached from that child after birth—even if they knew and intended all along to give up the child to the intended parents. 

Surrogate moms face increased pregnancy risks if they are carrying multiple embryos, which is often the case in order to ensure success. Multiple births come with an increased risk of Caesarian sections and longer hospital stays.

A report conducted by the University of Cambridge and published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry received some buzz after suggesting surrogate children face increased emotional risks. Researchers found that children who were not gestationally carried by the mother who ended up raising them faced increased psychological adjustment difficulties including depression. As I have personally suspected, similar to babies whenever, whyever, they are separated from the mother who gestated them.

When The Deck Is Stacked Against You

When my sons were young, I seriously worried that someone might disagree with our parenting of them and take our sons away from us. On occasion, I even warned them that their behavior put us all at risk. That was before I learned my parents adoption stories and before I joined an all things adoption which includes foster care group. Since then, the horror stories I have read about Child Protective Services makes my concerns of yesteryear seem less paranoid. I remember a Simpsons episode where the children are taken away from Homer and Marge over some coincidental events and given to the Flanders. Since our family was watching the series on dvds at the time, I used that episode to illustrate the dangers to my young sons.

So today, I read this story –

My biological mom is now sober, almost off probation and holding down a full time job, while keeping her house clean. Child Protective Services is telling her that unless she serves every single meal at the dining room table with the whole family, she’s not in compliance and my 6 year old sister is at risk of being taken away from her. Please try to tell me how Child Protective Services is not organized with the intent to steal kids from capable parents. Even when incapable parents turn their lives around and do the work required of them to become what their kids need to thrive, the system itself fights against them with arbitrary demands.

I can relate to this comment because it is much the same in my family (and we have the added challenge that my youngest son doesn’t believe the food that my husband and older son eat with me is actually fit for him to eat and so, I make provisions to include this one in some aspect of what the rest of us are eating (at least what he can accept as food LOL).

We have a maximum of 1 family meal per day as both my hubby and me work. The boys have breakfast together, though the older one often chooses to skip breakfast, lunch is at school and dinner is together, if my husband gets out of the clinic early enough. Sometimes one of the boys is angry and chooses to eat alone in his room to cool off, sometimes we eat in front of the tv. Sometimes my kids even eat outside in the park.

Someone else notes – we are the rare family who eats dinner together nightly but breakfast??? Lunch??? Not everyone is up together or home for lunch.

That pretty much describes my own family. We do have dinner together and I grew up with dinner at the dining room table but my dad was not always there because he worked shifts at an oil refinery. Everyone is on their own for breakfast and lunch in my household of today.

This is NOT the first time I have read they will go to your kid’s school and ask them questions –

They can prove where the kids are eating their meals by asking the kids at school without your knowledge or permission! I told my kids – if someone is at your school who you don’t know and they start asking questions, don’t answer them until I’m with you! No matter what they ask you say – “I’m not answering any questions without my mom here with me, you are a stranger.”

One suggestion is to get this demand in writing and consult with an attorney about it.

Someone else acknowledges how wealth inequality factors into these kinds of cases – they push all kinds of 1950s era respectability on poor moms, while the richer ones can feed theirs charges nuggets at the drive thru daily. And don’t get me started on substance abuse being leveraged against some parents, while the richer ones proudly boast how much wine they need just to be around their kids.

It’s not where you eat that makes you a family, but how you interact, and dinner is absolutely not the only place to interact by even the smallest stretch of the imagination.

One person admitted – They had issues with my kids eating crackers from a little cup on the floor, dropping one and then picking it up off the floor. It was a reason they gave for removal.

The response was – Have they never heard of the 5 second rule? Lol In all seriousness though, kids need to be exposed to a certain level of germs in order to build up their immune systems. Eating a cracker off the floor is not even the tiniest bit concerning. I’m so sorry they did that to you.

And I will add – I am not the germ free spotless kind of mother. And my kids have been healthy as all get out. I believe it is because I allowed them to be exposed to a certain level of germs. I believe that is actually true. They say if there is too much disinfectant and sanitizer involved, the kids are more vulnerable to illness.

Adoption Reform as a Social Movement

Today I read a opinion that Progressives support judicial reform (including changes in the nature of policing), oppose separating children from their parents at the Mexican border, care about minorities and other marginalized communities of people and are concerned about wealth inequality. The criticism is that Progressives show no understanding when an adoptee says – The adoption system is broken. It is a multi-billion dollar industry which exploits mothers in need of aid instead of aiding them financially or emotionally, commoditizes children, separates them from their families leaving long-lasting emotional and mental scars, denies them basic human rights and needs, and then sells them to rich families. The whole system should be dismantled and rebuilt from scratch. The first 4 “supported” issues can easily be combined through the lens of the adoption system to be relatively the same. Why the lack of understanding ?

I am a progressive and I have tons of adoption in my family background. I have now spent almost 4 years intensively educating myself about everything related to the adoption industry which includes foster care. So, I know that what this adoptee was saying about the adoption system is the truth. So, next I thought – is the accusation against Progressives fair ? I did a little google search and sure enough – very little on that topic comes up. I did find one paper in the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare titled “Adoption in the US: The Emergence of a Social Movement” that I thought might be promising but I am left with mixed feelings about it because I am suspecting it won’t go far enough. It is 21 pages and I will try to find time to read it (I admit, I haven’t read it yet – it’s long, okay ?).

I do know that drop by drop of clarity into the muddy waters of the unicorns and rainbows fantasy myth about adoption IS taking place. I belong to a Facebook group that has over 6,000 members – almost all of them sharing personal stories and most are VERY reform minded. That is significant and they are not the only ones shedding light on everything related to adoption and changing hearts and minds. This group of caring individuals has certainly brought me out of the fog of believing adoption is a good thing and helped me to see the very problematic aspects it honestly entails.

Adoption is one of the few issues that seem to have strong with bipartisan support. I was shocked at how much the federal government supports adoption – when I found out my Republican Senator Roy Blunt and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar are both the co-chairs of a committee that encourages – and legislates financial support to foster adoption.

Certainly, there is no excuse for the ignorance. If someone with a direct experience of adoption – either a birth mother who lost her child to the system or an adoptee who has learned about how the trauma of being separated from their mother has affected them and will have lifelong lasting effect on them – says the system they came from is broken, as a Progressive who cares, you should listen to them. Then, do the work of researching the issues for yourself but by all means – listen. Then, if you are truly a caring individual, find something you can do to help reform the practice. Do something about the problems that cause unwed expectant mothers to lose their child in the first place.

What Causes The Trauma ?

A question was asked – what causes trauma in adoption ?  I think it is valid to ask about that.

One adoptee responded – The separation in itself is traumatic. Example: I was separated from my birth mom right after I was born. She didn’t even get to see me. Now I know when babies are born it takes time til they understand they are a separate person. They still believe that they are A PART of their mother. It’s like someone cutting off a part of your body. And you have no recollection of who or why. Wouldn’t that be traumatising for you?

Another adoptee shared that the trauma came from not being able to understand why the original parents, or at least the mother, didn’t try harder.  Often an adoptee interprets that to mean that somehow they were not good enough, not lovable, defective somehow.  Children especially cannot appreciate the complicated situations many adults must navigate and how they arrive at difficult decisions that may even leave them with a lifetime of sorrow.

This frequently leaves the adoptee believing as they mature that no one could ever love them. They explain it this way – if the person who was naturally supposed to love them the most, as their own flesh and blood, couldn’t find it in themselves to love their own child, then why would anyone else be able to love them ? The concept of love is broken for many adoptees. For many, it is the ultimate betrayal and cannot be explained as anything less than a profound abandonment.

Many adoptees are given the standard narrative that their mother loved them so much and didn’t think she could really give the child the best life and so, she surrendered her child to someone else to raise, believing that would give her child the best possible outcome.  And I think a lot of these mothers have become convinced one way or another that this is the truth of their situation.  I try not to judge.  But personally, I do find this sad.  It arises from a self-deprecating and poor self-esteem that is preyed upon by agencies and lawyers who make money when they can get a child released from their original family to allow a more wealthy couple to technically “buy” that child.  I realize that most adoptive parents do not see it as baby selling and buying.

There is trauma too in this narrative. This teaches an adoptee to equate love with abandonment and betrayal.  The effects can diminish the opportunity to have strong, stable and healthy relationships later in life.  Some will go through several failures (and one does not have to be adopted to have failed romantic relationships, some of it is learning what it is that one needs and what one can give to another person, including when and how to compromise) before they finally find a relationship that can help them heal from such misunderstandings.  Some sadly never heal.