The other day an Adoptive Parent left a comment on a post detailing that I had enormous problems bonding with my adoptive parents and how I demonize adoption as the source of all my pain and woes. Say what? Funny thing happened though, it didn’t upset me like it would have in the past, whether that’s because it’s become old hat, or because I’ve come to the conclusion that most folks can’t separate “adoption” from “being adopted” from “family” from “feelings” and get upset that I don’t use “disclaimers”, which I believe may have been part of the reason the comment was left.
That type of comment does leave me speechless though, and I wonder if they view adoption different from I do, so lets start there. Is Adoption some type of sacred object that no one is allowed to critique and offer process improvements for, and must only be seen as something joyful and loving and never mention any feelings regarding loss? Or is it an institution created to find the best solution for when a child needs a new home, and as such, is subject to human frailties and must always continue to evolve to make sure it is done with the highest level of awareness, empathy, compassion, and most of all, with fair play? It can’t be both, and if you think it is the former, rather than the latter, this blog is not the right venue for you and you can stop here.
But for the sake of future adoptive parents who may read this blog from time to time and passed the test above, I’ve written a simple primer for you to understand what I mean when I talk here.
Adoption: An institution created as a solution to a child needing a new family. Being an institution makes it subject to mistakes and bad practices. Laws change as times change and understanding grows (or at least they should), sometimes they change for the worse and that needs to be called out too. Adoption, the practise now (and in the past) are open to critique and discussion and suggestions for improvement. If you take that as a personal affront (or think it demonizes adoption) then you won’t do well here.
Being Adopted: The feelings an adoptee may experience because they are adopted (not because of who their parents are) that are common defined issues in adoption, the different times they may come into play, the higher risk for adopted teens attempting suicide from a recent study. The laws on our files and our original birth certificates and other challenges like citizenship and the lack thereof. The ways to parent an adopted child, the bare basics like your child should always know they’re adopted (you wouldn’t believe how many fail this simple test), ways to walk alongside your child. Things that can help an adoptee because they are adopted and dealing with a challenge and need you.
Feelings: As in my personal feelings on being adopted, the challenges I faced, still face, what’s happened in my life that caused big feelings, both the joys and the tears, and the things that drive me batty. My space, my choice.
My families: I have two families, have since I was a baby. That is how adoption and being adopted works. I have Mom and Dad and my family, and I’ve made my feelings for them clear in multiple posts and if you’ve missed them, look for them. They shaped my moral compass and taught me to speak up when I saw something was wrong, being done wrong. The fastest way to make me angry is to allude to how they parented me in a negative way, or that they didn’t know how to be good adoptive parents. I don’t know how many adoptees have to explain that our parents didn’t have the knowledge available to you today, they had to figure it out as they went along and many did a fine job using common sense and empathy, and most get a pass you won’t get with the knowledge at your fingertips. The knowledge you have that was gained from studying adoptees I might add. You don’t want to see me angry, and it’s not good for my blood pressure either so just don’t go there. I also have a mother and father and families as well being adopted and have talked a bit about them. My ancestors from all four parents and the trees I have for each are a big deal for me. And, just to be clear, they are all off-limits to people who would leave nasty comments. Stick to this rule and we’ll get along fine as long as you are polite and not mean-spirited with your words.
Disclaimers: I stopped doing the adoptee disclaimer years ago. The disclaimers adoptees feel they need to tell you for you to even consider hearing what they have to say. You know the one which states how I love my parents and family and all that stuff that many adoptees still start with before daring to talk about being adopted and adoption? It infantilises adoptees and is disturbing to think that in order for an adoptee to speak with the chance of being heard, they must first pass a loyalty test lauding their parents and love for them. No, just no, you don’t get to demand that from an adoptee, and would you want your child to have other people require that from them just to have a voice?