When I was a teen (way, way back when) and I was struggling with all the complicated, and contradictory feelings of what being adopted meant (no one knew I had those feelings), I decided that only those adopted, should adopt. It made sense in my teen mind that it would be much better if only those who had lived it, adopted, so the young one would have an adult who could understand.
What I didn’t know was how many just like me had already been adopted during my era (the BSE), that by some estimates by the time I was adopted, more than a million were growing up around the country. A million adoptees just like me, what I wouldn’t have given to have known that. I know I was lucky to have had a couple of adopted friends and school mates, and had hung out with others at summer camp – but to know there were so many of us? That would have been a priceless gift. That was a bygone era, where that type of information on the scope of adoptions happening around the country didn’t filter down, like it does today.
But getting back to that teen belief that only those adopted should adopt, brings out the point of just how little a child/teen really can understand about the totality of adoption, why it happens, how others just like them might feel. I just accepted that adoptions needed to happen and never thought past that basic premise. I didn’t see that society could shift, and change, how they viewed unwed motherhood. I didn’t understand that society also needed that attitude to make sure those in married families who couldn’t have their own children, could become parents. I didn’t get that demand was part of what drove adoption, instead of society driving change to make life better for mothers. I just believed that babies like me needed to be adopted – hence my reasoning that they should be adopted by people who would understand all those feelings churning inside of me, not sharing, because even then I understood that unless you lived it, you couldn’t really get it…you could try, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Now that I have a much better handle on adoption, my teen naïve beliefs have been firmly put to rest, I realize those teen beliefs that only those adopted should adopt is unrealistic because – adoption is not always needed for babies like me. Great changes have happened, but so much more is needed. To me it is sad that there are many, many companies that exist solely to process adoption, for profit agencies, and what does that actually say about why adoption exists? Not true non-profit entities that have people working because they want to make a difference, not to get rich, just to do good for those seeking help. And I say the last because there are non-profits that say they are child welfare agencies, but still seem to promote adoption as the best option for all mothers, not as a solution when all other services fail. Doesn’t that seem like the wrong way to do it? Shouldn’t they be working to make the world a better place where babies like me don’t need adoption to grow up protected, strong, healthy, educated? Shouldn’t the goal be for a child welfare agency to call for, advocate, lobby for, a stronger safety net, that things like a paid mat leave through employment insurance should become the norm, so that adoption is the very last option and not just because they have to work the first year of their child’s life when daycare options are almost non-existent, or after other options have been given an honest chance to work?
Anyway, that’s what I think should happen, a society that views all mothers (and fathers) as worthy of social and societal support to raise their children well, where only babies who have parents who don’t want them, or are not capable of raising them, are adopted out. If that makes me in your eyes anti-adoption, then have at it, I prefer to see myself as child focused on what is best for them, and when there is a level playing field, staying within your family of birth is best.