Monthly Archives: September 2010
I have mixed feelings about subsidies to families who adopt through foster care. I do understand the reasons behind it, both the economics for the state and federal to save money and to give the kids permanence. I understand that kids who were abused will need services. I understand kids that were born to mothers who were active users of drugs and/or alcohol will have physical and mental challenges. I understand the benefits of supporting the new parents.
But it still leaves an icky feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Not only that unscrupulous parents may choose to be career adopters of multiple children to subsidize their live styles with the money instead of using it solely to benefit the child, because we all know that it can and most likely does happen.
But because if that money has to be spent – why is it not being spent to fix the wrongs to begin with, before the family breaks down. Spend the money on rehab facilities that are not available to the poor that have a real program not just a dry out time. Spend the money on the family to alleviate the stress of not being able to make enough money to support your family, where that stress creates the atmosphere for domestic violence. Spend the money on family parenting classes, daycare, support systems designed to provide real resources, respite, mental health counseling, more social housing, housing instead of shelters for victims of domestic abuse, paid training for better jobs…
Of course there will always be families that refuse to acknowledge there is a problem…so there will always be children taken from families.
It just seems like there has to be a better way than pouring money into new families. When original families might just have made it with a little bit of help that starts with a plan and a goal, that, at the end of the day families may not have been torn apart. I was always taught to fix the problem at its source instead of creating patches to mitigate the unintended consequences.
What do I not see? Have all those services already been provided to ensure family preservation? Is this truly the last recourse?
I intended to watch the three adoption related documentaries on PBS. I recorded the first and it took me over a week to get up the courage to watch it. I could not watch the other two, I was not strong enough because I know the message that they contain. That the adoption machine does not work and creates chaos and pain and completely unnecessary suffering.
At the same time adoption in its purest form can work. Adoption as a solution as a last result worked for a long time. Or in other words adoption when all other avenue of support fail. That worked for me until I understood the ramifications of the adoption machine and that overwhelmed and destroyed the true good of adoption, and the impact became too great for me to ignore anymore. Even then it was hard to accept that it could be corrupted by greed and desires instead of the best interests of the child when all else failed.
My life was good. In my eyes the sun rose and set on my dad and if he was still here, the sun would still rise and set because of him and him alone. He was and is still the best man who ever walked on this earth, I have never met his equal and doubt I ever will. The world became less than the day he passed away. But you see, dad was from the era before the adoption machine, so mom and dad adopted to provide a family for a child – not to find a child for their family. It is that simple. To provide a loving home to a child who needs a home. And that is what they did. They adopted and we became family. I am not saying others do not adopt for this reason as I know others that have. It’s just the adoption machine has also created a demand that is unrealistic and to supply that demand, lines that should never be crossed, are crossed.
The act of adoption did not erase my other family, it simply added to it, even if we would never know who my family was. Mom and dad never feared we would leave them if we found our other family, why would they? we were family. They never hid the fact that we had another family, another mother and father. They did not shy away from talking about adoption. They raised me to be a critical thinker with mindful understanding of realities for others. To assess what politics lay behind societies rules. To dig deep and understand core issues before making my decision on any subject.
Today I see parents carefully crafting their child’s adoption narrative. The way they want their child to view their adoption. I can understand this desire but question the motives behind it. Is it for the parents comfort level or the child’s well being or even perhaps both reasons. Again, understandable but desirable? Truly in the best interests of the child first and foremost? Would it not be better to just present the facts and provide the child with the skills necessary to mind fully come to their own conclusion? Or is it the right thing to craft the narrative at an early age and then teach critical thinking later? I wish I remembered more of what my mom and dad said when I was that little. All I can remember is my story and the reasons why society dictated I be placed, nothing about what I was told to think about adoption. Perhaps they just left it up to me to figure out.
What do you think when you read statements like: I was careful to present the birth parent info to my daughter just the way I wanted her to have it…or…I will mould and shape her understanding of her complex past…or…I don’t even want to call them mommy and daddy, but birth mother and birth father.
To me those statements above tell me their feelings are first and foremost but they don’t realize it. They truly believe it is in their child’s best interest but is it? Or is it telling the adoptee how they must see their adoption, and how they will accept their adopted status? Are they teaching their child how to think critically or telling their child what they want them to think? Are all the’ how to’ books teaching this new generation of parents helping or hurting in crafting the adoptive narrative for their child? Am I over analyzing it or just looking at it critically through the eyes of an adult?
Far too many stories have been happening in recent years about fathers being stripped of their right to parent. When will it end? When will people consider that ethics are important? How can we force agencies to stop acting this way and actually take the time to make sure all parties are in agreement. It makes me sick when I read news accounts when all parties knew right off the bat that the father wanted to parent and complied with all requirements. And if the new parents use stall tactics in court and then whine about poor me when they knew all along the father wanted to parent…sorry my sympathy bucket is empty.
I hate the term – others love the term. They can love the term for their own reasons but it physically destroys me, especially when it is used pre-birth as in the baby has not been born and the papers aren’t even signed. Can someone explain a logical reason why agencies promote the use of the term birth mother? Is it to play mind games on both the mother and hopeful mother? To get them so accustomed to the roles of giving and taking a child from one family to another – long before it even happens?
Does it psychologically assist manipulate the mother to place? Does it psychologically assist manipulate the hopeful mother to accept a baby that is not yours by birth, because once the papers are signed you hold the title of mother, and the mother has always been just the birth mother? Does it disenfranchise the hopeful parent from acknowledging that the mother is giving up her child because she was already a birth mother? Does it make the transaction easier?
When a mother has a child growing inside of her – she is just a mother. No more – No less. Give her respect and don’t call her a birth mother. And even if she does relinquish her baby to you - still don’t call her a birth mother - she is still the mother of your child and will be for life – respect her for who she is as a person and who she is to your child. Or always refer to yourself as adoptive mother and your child as your adopted child. And it goes without saying that I apply the same thoughts to the term birth father…Qualifiers offend me in adoption.
I dream of the day I can read a hopeful parents through adoption blog and not see the term birth mother…and please don’t even think of using the term “our birth mother”…
Edited to add – I do understand using qualifiers in some instances but when it can be clearly understood there is no need.
I had never given the thought of searching for my birth parents much consideration as a child, teen, or young adult. Of course, being the curious creature I am, at times, I had wondered about my birth parents. I wondered who they were, what they looked like, just as most adopted children will do. At some point, I am sure I had asked about them. I don’t recall if, or what, I was told. I just remember thinking no one knew anything about them. If no one knew anything about my birth parents, I suppose, I just accepted that I would never know either. It was no big deal. That’s just how it was. As a child, why would I think anything else?
One day, I remember my Mom sending me to find my birth certificate in their box of important papers. As I was looking through the box, I came across a green piece of paper in one of the file folders. That piece of paper was from Hope Cottage. Being the curious, little kitten, that I am, and was, as you might imagine, I, of course, had to read it, especially, when I notice that it had my name on it. Contained in the green paper, printed in black ink, were the generic details of my birth. It had my weight, length at time of birth, and general, generic details about my birth parents, such as, hair color, eye color, weight, height, an ethnicity. Basically, it was the condensed version of what I would receive, years later, in my non-ID information. It was nothing, and it was everything, to a curious, preteen adoptee, which believed no one, knew anything about where, or who, she had come from, and hadn’t really, ever given it much thought.
As a hip preteen of the 70’s, I, of course, knew where babies came from. I understood enough what I had been told about adoption to logically understand that a stork hadn’t really drop me off at the doorstep of my parent’s home, or the doorstep of Hope Cottage. I had been told the story of how the agency called one day to tell my parents there was a baby girl in need of a home, how they had gone to see me, and obviously, brought me home. Yes, as a preteen, Logically, I understood how babies were made, where they came from, and how families became families, but that was not how I had become part of a family. I knew I had another mother and father. My parents had explained it to me. I was adopted. In my child’s mind, was that really all that important?
I don’t recall a specific place and time when my parents sat me down and explained adoption to me. It seems I just always knew I was adopted, and as much as a child can, understood what that meant. It wasn’t, however, until I found that single piece of green paper that the reality of what being adopted meant became real to me. I hadn’t been searching for information about my birth parents. I hadn’t even been thinking about them. At the time, they were nothing more than a curious enigma in the depths of my mind. At that young age, why would they be anything more?
All of a sudden, there I was, sitting in a closet, looking for my birth certificate, which my Mom had asked me to do, and their they were, my birth parents, looking back at me through a little green sheet of paper. My birth parents had just become real, well, at least, as real as knowing descriptions of them could make them in my child’s mind. I had just unintentionally been introduced to the terms birth mother and birth father, as well as, a confirmation that my birth mother was “unwed”. Even at that young age, I understood the stigma that went along with the notation of “unwed” on that paper. As a child, was that really supposed to mean anything to me?
As a preteen, I was fully aware that it was wrong for girls to have sex before they were married. I understood that girls, who had sex before they were married, and became pregnant, well, what did I really know as a preteen, other than it was not a good thing? All I really knew was what I had been told. I had never given any thought, as far as I remember, to just why I had been given up. Maybe I was just too young? Maybe it didn’t’ matter? Maybe I didn’t care? Maybe I didn’t want to think about it, and I guess, wasn’t going to start then. The information I found on that paper had just brought my birth parents to life, at least, in my mind. That was good enough for me. As a child, the why’s of it all just really didn’t matter. Why would it? As a young child, was I really capable of understanding such a thing?
As I sat in the floor of the closet, staring at that little piece of green paper something inside of me began to awaken. It was a feeling that I could not find a word for. It was feelings I didn’t understand, but it most definitely evoked some kind of feeling in me. Butterflies in my stomach are what come to mind. I had found the answers to questions that I hadn’t realized were that important to me. This was exciting, like finding a hidden treasure chest. I was scared too, but of what, and why? Why hadn’t anyone ever told me about this? Was I not supposed to know? Was I going to be in trouble for finding this? Were my parents going to be mad at me? I certainly didn’t want to upset them, or for them to be mad at me. Exhilarated by this treasure chest of new knowledge, And terrified because it, for some reason, felt very threatening to me, I put the paper back, found my birth certificate, closed the box, shut the door, and decided that what I had just found would be my secret.
I’m not sure why I felt the need to keep my find a big secret, but the longer I kept my secret, the angrier I became. Why hadn’t anyone told me about this? How could they keep this from me? Needless to say, as my anger grew, my secret didn’t stay a secret for long. I went to the closet, found the paper, and took it to my mother, demanding to know why she hadn’t told me about it. She asked where I had found it. She hadn’t remembered having it. I don’t recall what she said. Whatever it was, it must have satisfied me for the time being, and we returned the paper to the box. No big deal, and the subject never came up again, but it was most definitely not forgotten, not by me that’s for sure.
I don’t recall how much time went by before, unbeknownst to my parents, I sneaked back to the closet, retrieved that valuable little green piece of paper, and hid it in my room. It wasn’t that my parents had ever, intentionally, kept that information a secret from me. They were always very open about my adoption, so why I felt like I had to sneak into the closet and steal a piece of paper is a bit mind-boggling.
I can’t really say if I truly understood at such a young age, what exactly that paper represented to me. Did I somehow comprehend that it was the only connection to my actual birth, and all that goes with that. Did I somehow understand it somehow connected me to my birth parents?
What it meant at the time, I can’t really say. It was just something that felt important to me. That little green piece of paper was somehow a part of me, though I didn’t really understand why. It was nothing, and it was everything. It was something I needed, even if I didn’t know why at the time. Even after finding that paper, I don’t recall ever considering the thought of someday finding my birth parents. That paper, and the information contained within, was enough for me.
I never knew if my parents realized I had taken that paper from the folder I found it in. No one ever mentioned it if they had. The subject had never come up again, until last year, when my Mother asked if I still had it. I was a little shocked that she would remember, much less ask about it over 30 years later. Maybe they did know, and maybe they understood just how important that information was to me. The answer to my Mother’s question was yes. Over 30 years after my discovery, and after reuniting with both of my birth parents, I still have that little green piece of paper. It is still nothing but a sheet of paper with some information, most of which I found out to be incorrect, and it is still everything too. It is part of me, part of my story. It was, and is, nothing and everything to this adoptee.