Saturday, June 16, 2007

Open Adoption - Check your lenses!

From a post out in bloggerspace on

Do you ever feel that this whole adoption thing is a battle? First, there is the battle for the possession of the child. Then, their is the battle for the loyalty of the child. From my own personal observation, it seems that adoptive parents are the ones starting the wars and picking the battles (not all adoptive parents). First, there is the battle for the physical possession of the child. Adoptive parents who choose domestic adoption must first be nice to potential birthparents. Some adoptive parents skip this part of the battle by choosing international adoption. Don’t deny the truth of this. Do you know how many times I have heard, “We chose xy country because we did not want to have to deal with birthparents. We did not want to have to have contact with the birth parents after the adoption. We want OUR child to know who his/her REAL parents are.” Those comments are the subject of an entirely different post so they won’t be dealt with at this time. Once the adoptive parents have won the initial battle and the child is in their possession, their true motives become evident. Maybe they promised to send pictures and letters but they do not fulfill their obligations. Maybe they send “pictures” but they make sure that they are out of focus or tops of heads are cut off. Why? Because they view the birthparents as the adversaries! The birthparents are trying to steal the loyalty of the child. Which brings us to the next battle, the emotional possession of the child. This battle is “won” by making sure that the child grows up understanding that their loyalty must be with the adoptive parents. Adoption discussion is tolerated only on a superficial level. Searching would be a treacherous act. After all, the birthparents are evil enemies who would only corrupt the child. Seems to me that if these adoptive parents could only understand one basic fact, birthparents are not adversaries. In most cases, birthparents are making the difficult placement decision because they want to provide their child with the best possible life. They enter into the adoption process with good faith, and sometimes they are slapped in the face. Why wouldn’t they be bitter? Why wouldn’t they be on the defensive? If adoptive parents would just realize that it is in the best interest of the child to honor that large part of the child that comes from the birthparents. If adoptive parents would just realize that by honoring birthparents they are honoring the child. Maybe then they would begin to realize that the honor and respect that they show to the birthparents results in a closer bond to the very child that they are so fearful of losing. Maybe if they would stop viewing it as a battle then a wonderful period of peace could occur.
Disclaimer: There are many wonderful adoptive parents out there who truly honor the child and the birthparent. This post is not aimed at them. There are birthparents who are abusive/neglectful and contact would not be advised. I am simply speaking about many situations that exist.

The assumption in the battle mentoned above is that all adoptive parents are just greedy with ugly motives. Would love to expand your thinking and add a couple more lenses. I am an adoptee (state run 1965 - sealed records) of an adoptee (my father in 1922 - private adoption) and we both reunited with our birth families. I am also an adoptive parent because my wife and I could not have biological children (international). The above fails to mention other reasons (much more common) why most parents go international - it's not that they don't want contact with birthparents. It's twofold, but the main reason is FEAR of having one's heart ripped out because a birthmother changes their mind early in the process (or after the child has been placed) and takes the child back (and the judge will always rule in favor of the birthparent in this country). I'm not against open adoptions, but I would never take this risk as long as this continues to be the practice. Damn if I'm going to adopt a child someone can come along and change their whimsical little mind and proceed to destroy my family!

The second one is that domestic adoption is traumatic and there are no guarantees (people are going to extreme to find a baby on YouTube now). One must put themselves up on parade in hopes that a birthmother will choose them. A homestudy is revealing enough. Have you ever been through one? Let's just say that if people knew how invasive an agency (unregulated I might add) can get in the homestudy process, adoption would only remain the last last option. I've had less questions asked of me in buying a home, a car and multi-million dollar equipment purchases for my business combined. Forgive my rant for a moment. I for one am not going to put myself on parade and hope some young teenager or twenty-somthing of another generational time is going to pick me. What in the world is going to influence them to pick my wife and me. We aren't movie stars, we're not infinitely wealthy & I hate spinning how "great I am to the world and how wonderful parents we are going to be for your child". How the heck do I say that - I've never been a parent in the first place! I have my own set of problems and so does everyone. We were in our early 40's when we made the decision of adoption. You tell me what the odds are that some teenager is going to let an average middle class 40 something family adopt their firstborn? We all must grow to understand how complex adoption really is (having lived amongst it and with those touched by adoption my whole life makes the lines very grey and hard to determine a black and white stance on anything). Many many views, angles, stances and lenses are needed to truly see into and through the many many issues of every plight in adoption. Many would think of me as an advocate for adoption. Once again - throw me into a box, stick on a label and put me on your shelf. (I'm an adoptive parent, I participate in two charities, I vote conservative and I'm a capitalist when it comes to business. What box do I belong in?)
Adoption is much more complex and I'm for a few things in adoption and adamantly against many others. I hate adoption most of the time. I love it only a small part of the time. I love my family and my 5 year old twin boys, but I hate some of the things adoption did to me. I struggle every day with the question "How the hell am I going to be a good father when I was abandoned by my birthfamily at 4, a ward of the state until 5, adopted by a troubled married couple to save their marriage, my afather leaves when I'm 10?) My adoptive life sucked 99 % of the time. I now try to commuinicate with all sides of the triad, having lived on two sides in this life. Every day I see more and more and the lines get blurrier and blurrer. I'm learning to understand the one side of the triad (birthparent) that I haven't lived on. I'm not so blind to realize that I'm naiive about many of the hurts and pain a birthmother has gone through having relinquished a child under durress, confusion or peer pressure. I used to condemn this group becuase my limited view was that relinquishment in the modern age was for convenience and purely selfish. Until I met more than one who was forced due to financial, living and other issues outside the birthmother/birthfather's control. Shame on me! Every side of the triad has a voice! No one voice of any side of the triad is the final authority. Issues abound and the minute we take a stance, someone comes along which brings our stance into question. We are touched by adoption and will continue to be touched by adoption. Call it fate, call it what you want, but it's who we are and a decision most of us did not choose.


Erika said...

adoption is built on loss.
we can try to pretty it up with 'touching' stories but that is the truth.

adoption involves erasing identities, barring parents from ever seeing their children and a host of other nasty issues like the billions of dollars made of the impoverished.

it's sickening if you really look at it up close.

3rd generation adoption said...


Third Mom said...

Adoption most definitely can be a battlefield - you describe it very well.

In addition to greed and entitlement, I would add ignorance as causes. When you said this: "We chose xy country because we did not want to have to deal with birthparents," I remembered clearly saying the very same thing. Yet all it took was one look at our son on the day he joined our family to realize how genuinely perverse that attitude is - and how deeply it is rooted in misconception and even lies.

Thank you for a thought-provoking post.

Lisa said...

Just started my adoption blog. Just found yours. Any help would be appreciated.


Rebecca Hawkes said...

"Every side of the triad has a voice!" Indeed! Thought-provoking post. Adoption has so many complexities. I too am an adoptee and adoptive parent (though I can only claim two generations) and I can identify with hating much about adoption while simultaneously loving my formed-by-adoption family. As I said recently on my own blog, I contradict myself all the time (or seem to) but that's just part of the adoption experience for me. Nothing is ever simple or clear-cut.