This post has brewed in my mind for a long time, and yet, still comes out choppy. It’s the best I can do. I’d imagine some adoptees will agree, others won’t. I’d guess some parents by adoption (and even by birth) may disagree. I’ve only written one post here on a new adoption, someone I knew personally – and even then, I chose my words carefully.
I can be thankful an adoption has happened when the child needed a new home, and I am close enough to the situation, to be thankful it happened, and to whom.
I can’t be thankful for every adoption that has happened. Sometimes, I’m neutral about an adoption because on the surface it seems right, other times I can be very upset, when it seems like ethics were left by the wayside. It bothers me how others can think every adoption that happens is so wonderful, regardless if it’s the first time they ever heard the people’s names. I can’t imagine being that naïve to think that every adoption that happens is the best thing for the baby, their parents by birth, and that the people adopting are the best ever parents and everybody should be thrilled.
There is also the another aspect weaves into the discussion – the terms used. Even when I am thankful an adoption happened, I can’t celebrate that it happened. I just can’t because that would be celebrating a huge loss, not just for the child, but for the parents by birth as well, even if that loss needed to happen to keep the child safe. The loss still happened, and I don’t celebrate loss.
I didn’t celebrate when dad passed away, even though I was thankful that he wouldn’t suffer anymore. Can you see the difference I’m trying to paint between celebrating and being thankful? That’s how I distinguish the two in my mind. That’s why I won’t celebrate adoption, even the most extreme cases where it means the child had a chance to live – they still lost their entire family, even if that family wasn’t good, they lost them, and I don’t celebrate loss. Instead, I can be thankful. Even if they state they are celebrating the new beginning, I can’t, and won’t celebrate it, because it only happened because the loss happened first, and I see both as part of the same.
If an adoptee wants to celebrate their adoption, or someone else’s adoption – that’s their right, just like my right is to not celebrate it, rather be thankful when it needs to happen and the child ends up with parents who are empathetic, aware, and secure in who they are.
March 29, 2015 at 7:55 pm
Your thoughts were clear and concise….
Adoption is similar to divorce. Most people aren’t going to celebrate a divorce. It may be necessary. It may be the only choice. But, the divorce is rarely celebrated.
And, of course, adoption is different from divorce. Adoptees have no hand in the decision. Adoptees’ identities are concealed with new birth certificates. And, most of us lose all ties to and knowledge of our families. Our back stories are obliterated.
When someone gets a divorce, the typical response isn’t “Congratulations!”
LikeLiked by 1 person
March 31, 2015 at 4:14 am
Well, in my experience, with our adoptions, they’ve been more like marriages. We’ve gained two families. I suppose, legally, they are more like divorces in that they are no longer legally tied to their biological families. However, I’m in contact with my children’s birth families more often than I am with an entire half of my biological family. My children didn’t lose their ties or knowledge of their families. I imagine it is very different for adoptees in closed adoptions.
I also know several people who have celebrated their divorces, but they were all finally leaving abusive relationships.
March 31, 2015 at 11:49 pm
To be fair, I didn’t use absolutes. I said most–not all–people aren’t going to celebrate divorce. And, I said most adopted children lose ties and/or knowledge of their families. But, still, many, if not most adoptees, will think at least occasionally about the loss. The adoptive family may well be healthier and may well be safer in a given situation, but that doesn’t mean that a loss didn’t occur. For some, the loss will be felt more than for others.
You’ve read several adult adoptees’ opinions on here. Our thoughts, since we’ve lived this experience, should probably carry some weight.
I’m not saying your children will definitely feel a loss as adults. Not all adoptees report having those feelings. But, they may.
You’re looking at this from an adoptive parent’s perspective, which also tends to be society’s perspective on adoption. There is a disregard for any loss the child(ren) may feel. Those feelings, if experienced, are just supposed to be swept under the rug.
I’d like to hear your children’s perspectives 25-30 years from now. Maybe their thoughts will be in line with your current thoughts. Maybe they won’t be.
April 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm
Hi robyn, I have heard the adoption thing be compared to marriages before and I need t respectfully disagree. A marriage and the so called merging of 2 families is done with consenting adults. the 2 at the center are adults with (hopefully) supportive families to send them off on their new life. they are done with the formative years and have already established a sense of identity and have willingly made this decision to bring these 2 families together so they can live their lives together.
Adoption is nothing like marriage, even if you are in contact with the child’s family, its the child in the most important formative years that are dealing with 2 families and I have often said that if the child is truly the most important thing in this then BOTH families need incredible amounts of maturity and unselfishness to make it work for the child.
Adoption IS NOT like a marriage, ever.
Paige Adams Strickland
March 29, 2015 at 9:05 pm
agreed w you and L4R
March 30, 2015 at 7:58 am
Very well explained. This makes so much sense.
March 30, 2015 at 3:38 pm
I get it. Completely.
LikeLiked by 1 person
March 30, 2015 at 6:03 pm
I agree with others that you explained it well.
I’m so thankful for both my kids, but I can’t and don’t celebrate how they joined my family. They will have hard truths to face as they grow to understand what happened. I don’t see how a “gotcha” day or any type of celebration of that event will help them process all the complex feelings they are sure to have.
I agree that we celebrate life, we celebrate accomplishments, we celebrate things that are happy. Loss is not happy. And my kids have suffered loss. They aren’t growing up with their first mom and dad or 4 of their siblings. And even as they grow and develop relationships with them, those relationships will be different. They will never be able to have the relationships with them that might have been. That’s nothing to celebrate.
I think that the reason it’s hard for people outside of adoption especially to understand and even for some APs is that we think of birth as something to celebrate. So we celebrate when someone has a baby, and many think of that as celebrating that child joining their family. Many forget that when a child joins a family through adoption that they’ve already suffered a loss. And so many of us don’t know how to deal with loss, it’s painful, it’s uncomfortable. So we avoid it, we ignore it if we can. We find something else to focus on. In doing so, I think we unintentionally disrespect the pain that has occurred. It’s as if we think that if we ignore someone’s loss, that it doesn’t exist. Almost as if focusing on a joyful interpretation will make the pain go away.
LikeLiked by 1 person
March 30, 2015 at 6:08 pm
You are right – people are uncomfortable with loss, even if the loss is only a what if.
April 2, 2015 at 9:50 pm
Your kids are lucky that you understand. That is one of the best gifts you can give them. I just blogged about this and how I’m still dealing with the secrecy about my adoption.
LikeLiked by 1 person
March 31, 2015 at 5:34 am
i heard an adoptee in her 60’s yesterday explaining how she had had her adoption legally revoked – this is possible in Australia; can it be done in all or any dtates of the u.s.?
April 2, 2015 at 9:48 pm
I agree with you. Adoption isn’t a fucking party, esp for the birth family and the adoptee. It’s a fact of life. It’s an event. It’s something to deal with, to accept, and possibly to grow from, but it’s not a goddamn balloons-and-cake celebration. Thank you for articulating this.
April 8, 2015 at 3:05 pm
I didn’t know I was adopted until I was 26 years old and had 2 children of my own. I found out during a fight with my younger sister who is was not adopted. I was devistated. I felt like my whole life had been a lie. My adoptive parents didn’t tell me much about it either. State adoption. Welfare baby. “Best $50 I ever spent” my father said lovingly. When he died I found a legal document with Baby Girl (birth name) on it. I don’t know if it’s my bio mother’s or father’s. I was born in the mid ’60’s. What do I do to find my bio parents?
April 8, 2015 at 3:15 pm
I’m running out the door – how starts with the state of birth and the laws. Tomorrow I can give you some ideas…
April 9, 2015 at 3:26 pm
JY66 – The surname would be your maternal surname. If you are comfortable, can you tell me the state you were born in? Some states like Washington, Oregon, Ohio, Illinois, New Hampshire, etc., have restored the right of the adoptee to access their original birth certificate (OBC), Kansas and Alaska never removed that right – that gives you a starting point to search once you order and receive it. Even if you can’t get your OBC, you can ask for from the state what is called your non-identifying info that can help you in a search. There are also search angels and registries you can post on – it starts with what you can order from the state.
As to the welfare baby crack…many of us were surrendered to the state – mothers who didn’t go through an adoption agency, or to a maternity home, rather just went to their family doctor, delivered and then just called up the county child and services and surrendered us to be adopted. Many of us were adopted out that way – and it had no reflection on the type of parents or families we came from…
April 24, 2015 at 6:25 pm
I was adopted at six years old into a very abusive situation. I always tell people that I was removed from an abusive situation and adopted into another. My adopted father was a second cousin who was an alcoholic. His wife was a very jealous, domineering woman who enjoyed going to church five times a week and forcing me to go, as well. She used me as her maid. I had to do all of the cooking, cleaning and laundry and was not allowed to have friends over, nor visit any. Their son sexually molested me every chance he could. The social worker visited the home three times and declared all was well. I was threatened, punched and teased horribly by every member of the family including my cousins. So, like you, I choose not to celebrate adoptions until I listen carefully to the one that was adopted and he/she tells me I have cause to celebrate! Great post!!!!!
April 24, 2015 at 6:44 pm
Thanks Firehouserox – your story is horrible and I am so sorry that you had to live it.
Thanks for getting what I was trying to say.
April 24, 2015 at 8:52 pm
I believe one has to live it to understand it. Lovely post and Blessings!
April 1, 2016 at 3:35 pm
I really appreciate you recognising the loss felt by myself and other members of my son’s family of origin. I feel that loss profoundly and grievously at my core, even though we are thankfully reunited and have a close relationship now. I read recently on a Facebook site scorn and ridicule at the idea that I might have felt loss regarding my son’s disappearance into a closed adoption for thirty years, from when I was 16. Your empathy and understanding is very deeply appreciated here. I have learned so much from sites like yours and the thoughtful honesty of your words.