Some Thought Provoking Conversation about Adoption

I came across this a few days ago, and it played on my mind so much I felt I needed to blog about it.  It’s from one of my favourite bloggers (when I found her blog I read it from start to finish), who is herself both an adoptee and infertile.  She’s doing a write up here on a book by another adopted woman.  It’s an interesting and thoughtful conversation, the author replies a number of times in the comments section.

As someone who has had her fair share of trauma (and then again it’s nothing compared to some), the one thing that I have never ever seen as traumatic is the act of adoption. To me it seems (from the outside, but also as an infertile woman and someone who is very seriously considering adoption) to be one of the most miraculous and beautiful things I have ever come across. Not as an act of charity. Not as an act of rescue. I believe that it takes immense and tremendous love on the part of a birth mother to make this decision. I believe that if the birth mother truly believes she has made the right decision for her child, then adoption is most certainly in the child’s best interest. The social worker that we are dealing with told us that birth mothers care deeply for their children, and it is not a decision they take lightly. They are counselled for many months. They are 100% sure that this is what they want for their babies, who in 90% of cases they love dearly. The number one focus of the social worker is for the child. If even one grandparent shows some kind of dislike for the idea of adoption, the entire thing is out of the question. The care that is taken on every level is just incredible. Of course, there is no doubt in my mind that the child will feel abandoned on some subconscious level, and that is never OK. But there are so many aspects of life and childhood that are not OK, that are painful. We are all damaged!

My thoughts are basically the same thoughts that I have about all things.  In life you have two choices, all day, every day.  To act from a place of love or to act from a place of fear.  Actions from a place of fear are never empowering, and the same applies to adoption.  Placing a child due to your fear, or adopting a child due to fear cannot be healthy for anyone.  But when a birthmother places a child because her love for the child is so great that she puts her child’s needs above her own, and when a couple (or single person) adopt a child because their heart is so overflowing with love that has nowhere to go, surely the result can only be great.

There are few things as terrifying to any human being as loss of identity, and the dangers for adopted children in this respect are possibly greater than for children living with their biological parents.  But love and a sense of belonging must surely be able to overcome all those problems?

On a different note, it’s interesting that when a thought is in my mind, sometimes my bloggettes post about it before I do.  It’s happened with my last two posts!  Thanks Sharon and LM!



Filed under Fertililty, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Some Thought Provoking Conversation about Adoption

  1. To Love Bella

    I’m going to check out that blog after I’ve caught up on reading my others.

    You have this UNCANNY ability of putting down in words (so eloquently) what I am sometimes thinking; or what I have thought of, but been unable to verbalise so that others can understand.

    You are SUCH a special girl.


  2. Sharon

    Great post Mash!
    The point of my post yesterday, and I see you mentioned it in your post above and Jennifer mentions it in her post to, we are ALL damaged. We are all a product of our upbringing, we all have burdens to bare. Whether they come from adoption or from some other trauma is irrelevant, the point is we all live with a sense of loss or pain every day. It’s part of life. Period. But trying to blame heinous acts of cruelty on the fact that someone is adopted and having society accepts as such is horrendous for me. It shows complete ignorance and a lack of understanding for what a beautiful act of love adoption is.
    I have a blog post simmering on how we’re all damaged. Will get to it today hopefully!

  3. Great subject and your perspective on it is beautifully written. Thanks Mash !!

  4. “As someone who has had her fair share of trauma (and then again it’s nothing compared to some), the one thing that I have never ever seen as traumatic is the act of adoption.”

    I am writing from the point of view of an adult adoptee (I am also an adoptive mom, but that’s not the part that’s most alive in me at the moment), and I would really love for you to acknowledge that there is trauma in adoption … trauma for the adoptee and for the biological mom. Does that mean that healing isn’t possible or that one can’t move beyond the trauma? No, of course not. And today’s adoptive parents are in a much better position to guide the adopted child to healing than the those of my parents’ generation because there is so much more information available now. I love that you and I and others are engaging in discussions (like those stimulated by the _Found_ book tour) on the complexity of adoption. My adoptive parents were presented with a simpler version of adoption and as a result were less well equipped to guide me through the complexities of my experience. Love, yes, they had plenty of love, but they were not informed. Awareness of trauma was one of the things they lacked.

    Your social worker has presented a rather idealized version of adoption placement circumstances. Those were certainly not the circumstances in my placement, many years ago, back in the days of shame. I would like to say that things have completely changed since then, but I’ve read enough on blogs by first mothers who have place more recently to know that many still experience coercion around placement, just as my birth mother did. But if your social workers description is accurate, that is certainly an improvement.

    I am not anti-adoption, but from my position, having experienced it from two sides of the triad, I cannot describe it as “the most miraculous and beautiful things I have ever come across.” Adoption is complicated. It may be the best option in many circumstances, but it is rarely a painless option. Please understand that I am not saying that you should not adopt. Also, I understand and agree with your point that we are all damaged. Trauma is common … and we are growing in understanding of just how common it is and how to deal w/ it. (Peter Levine’s book _Trauma-Proofing Your Kids_ is a favorite resource of mine.) But I firmly believe that adoptive parents are much more able to effectively guide the child to healing when they are able to acknowledge that, in this particular case, separation from the biological parent is the source of trauma. Conversely, an inability to do so can be huge stumbling block, leading to emotional separation between the adoptive parent and child. Many of the adoptees of my era grew up feeling pressure to be “happy adoptees” basking in the glow of our miraculous lives; we learned to suppress any emotions that didn’t fit with this storyline. I really long for the adoptees of today to have a different experience. I want their parents to be able to acknowledge and validate whatever comes up for them in their adoptee experience so that they can move through those feelings and move on. One of my readers (an adoptive mom who is also a therapist and a sister of an adoptee) once described adoptive parenting as a “sacred task.” I agree with her; helping the adoptee process loss and move toward healing is an important part of that sacredness.

    • Thank you so much for reading my post and for responding so beautifully. I love your comment. I’m so sorry if my words came across as hurtful, or in any way diminishing in terms of your experiences (or anyone else’s). Of course I totally agree that for a birth mother to “lose” her child, or for a child to be removed from the woman who carried him/her must be absolutely devastating.

      I think in my post I was trying to say something similar to what you said at the end of your comment, that adoptive parenting is a sacred task, and there is so much beauty in that. I’ve always maintained that adoption is not an act of charity, or an act of rescuing. Nobody should ever be made to feel lucky just because they were adopted. Nobody’s feelings should ever be shoved down so that everyone else in their environment can bask in the glory of the adoption.

      I’ve been exceptionally careful to choose an agency who are pro choice, there are women who are with my social workers who have opted to terminate their pregnancies. It was the first question I asked them. If we do decide to go the adoption route (and it’s now extremely likely), and if we are so blessed as to be allowed to meet the birth mother (the decision will be up to her), then it will be the first question I will ask her too. I want to make very sure that she is not feeling pressurized or coerced.

      And of course, first and foremost will be the child, whose feelings around the situation are the most important of all. I can’t pretend that my husband and I will know how to deal with those feelings, but there are so many things about parenting that we have yet to learn. I certainly hope that we will at all times do what’s best for the child. I know we’ll make mistakes, everyone does. But I pray with all my heart that we will be able to navigate the pain and alienation that might result from the adoption process in the most healthy way possible. I know for sure that I’ll be researching it to death!

      My post was really a kind of response to some interesting comments that I saw, which gave me the feeling that adoptive parents were being seen as the villains and that adoption should altogether cease to exist.

      Of course it’s traumatic, and yes, it’s true, my words didn’t portray that. But there certainly is a place for it in society, and like anything, when a process is treated with love and respect, I believe that it can succeed and be healing for all.

  5. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I do have hope that the adoptees of today will struggle less than those of my era, not only because of the trend toward openness but also because there is is less secrecy around adoption these days and adoptive parents have access to so many more resources.

  6. Pingback: A Sacred Task – Parenting Through Adoption – Trinity Heart

  7. Pingback: Questioning the Institution of Adoption | The Lucky Life

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