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Best Interest in Adoption is about the Child

01 Jun

I read an article published by an Adoption Agency in 2019. Trying to find the words to describe what I think an adoption should be, if an adoption must happen. Note the text in quotes below are taken directly from the article.

The article was about Adoptees using DNA testing to find out who they are and where they came from. And how the agency believes it is wrong for adoptees to do DNA testing because what if the birth mother wanted privacy; what if she’d chosen a closed adoption. It talked about how agencies promised birth mother’s no one would ever know; and that she (the Birth Mother) and the agency had a binding agreement. An agency who still appears to do closed adoptions, but I would hope they at least now tell their client that they can’t promise anonymity, because that would be the right thing to do seeing as that’s the truth, and has always been the truth.

I was shocked when I read that article. It sat heavy on my heart, it also upset me, still upsets me.

I thought that adoption agencies today included education on adoption and on the challenges being adopted could present to the one adopted. I mean, wouldn’t that make sense to educate both expectant mothers and fathers and hopeful adoptive parents on the challenges the child will have to face and overcome because they are adopted? Don’t they offer counselling and adoption education to the expectant mother? And not only educate about adoptees, but also, the challenges both the hopeful and expectant parents will have to face and overcome to create that haven for the one adopted.

Doesn’t the agency teach both the expectant and adoptive parents that openness has been proven to be beneficial to not just the adoptee, but to all? And when I speak of openness, I don’t mean a one-way letter sent yearly via the agency, I mean true open-hearted openness where the adoptee benefits and can just speak openly about their feelings, and also build the foundation of a life-long relationship with their family by birth. And yes, I know that can’t always happen, and I’d also guess many go through the motions rather than embrace the opportunity to create a relationship history that can continue on when the adoptee becomes an adult and takes the reins. That should be the goal every time a child needs to be adopted.

That, by today, an expectant mother would never imagine wanting a closed adoption, or hopeful adoptive parents for that matter. One where they learn or have already learned how harmful closed adoption can be to the one adopted. One where they learn that in today’s world, there is no such thing as a truly closed adoption, that there can be ways to move forward in the best interests of the child, even if it is baby steps to start with.

But that article didn’t take that tone because it was meant to school adoptees.

It goes on to talk about how if an adoptee does want to search, they should hire them to search and make contact because the adoptee may not get the result they want doing a “forced reunion“, they also allude to the fact that if the Birth Mother says no, the one adopted is just out of luck and needs to move on, but maybe the Birth Mother will change her mind one day and can contact the agency, which means the one adopted, even as an adult, still has no autonomy or agency.

“Is the Curiosity Worth the Heartbreak”

But it’s wasn’t just the hire them to do the search that upset me, it was also the terms they used; an adoptee searching was “hunting down”, and then further on, to make the need to search not a big deal by using “Is the Curiosity Worth the Heartbreak” to drive home their points, maybe hoping adoptees will feel shame for wanting to know where they came from? And no, adoptees should never feel shame for wanting to know where they came from, what their story is, their beginnings, their family, who their ancestors were, right down to who they look like, who they inherited a trait from. It is not shameful to know your truth, need your truth, regardless if it is good or bad. Neither are adoptees naïve enough to assume they will be greeted with open arms, they can hope, but they don’t expect it.

It’s time to move into both/and and embrace honesty and openness in the best interest of the child.

I’m sorry that any agency would still promise complete confidentiality, when it shouldn’t have promised it to begin with, not even back in the BSE. An agency has no ability to ensure no one finds out about a secret pregnancy and adoption. Many reunions happened long before DNA testing became available. Mine was a closed confidential adoption during the BSE, yet I’ve known my surname by birth since I was little, plus a bit more info and am sure with that a PI would have found my family.

The start of DNA testing is not when reunions started happening, it has accelerated reunions, just like the internet accelerated reunions when it too became a tool in a search, Private Investigators were, and still are tools used as well as Search Angels.

Hunting down one’s biological family

Final thoughts: Adoption workers and agencies don’t get to decide what is the best path for any adult adoptee to take when seeking knowledge of their family by birth. You just don’t have that right; that’s up to the one adopted, we aren’t merely a product to be told what’s to do, what we can’t do, we are human beings, despite being adopted. And really, using “hunting down one’s biological family”? That line in the article is why I’ve written this post, it has no place in adoption.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to choose going through an agency and pay $400* for a decades old report with social worker notes on what happened when I was born, a report I couldn’t see, one that would be pretty much useless decades later; and then $900* to another stranger to search and try to make contact (* denotes what another agency charges). Instead, mom and dad had my back, mom petitioned the court for me and my records were unsealed for cause. Now, I could simply have ordered my original birth certificate because the laws in my state changed, as laws often do, another reason why Closed Adoptions must stop happening.

The Adoption world would be well-served if it simply refused total secrecy, a secrecy that wasn’t part of adoption until well into the last century. Let’s all work to promote openness when an adoption must happen in the best interests of the one being adopted.

 
17 Comments

Posted by on June 1, 2021 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

Tags: , , , , ,

17 responses to “Best Interest in Adoption is about the Child

  1. KPMominTexas

    June 1, 2021 at 8:37 pm

    It’s so hard to believe this is still happening! The agency shames the mother that her child deserves a better life she cannot give and shames the adoptee to not look for their birth parents. If it had not been for DNA testing it would have taken longer for my daughter to find me. She started with the agency, but they told her she would have to write a letter, they would contact me, and they would have us both come in for counseling with them before reunion. I do not remember how much that would have cost. They are the last people I want involved in my reunion. They did not offer counseling after her adoption, why did they want to counsel now? Do they want to make sure adoption opinions remain butterflies and rainbows? Do they want to make sure we aren’t going to make them look bad? They are the ones who should be ashamed.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • TAO

      June 1, 2021 at 9:43 pm

      Wow, I had no idea that was part of your story.

      I was a county baby so none of that type nonsense occurred. I was so gobsmacked by what I read that I had to write about it.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  2. Cindy

    June 2, 2021 at 12:47 am

    I think the purpose of an article like that is also meant to shame or continue shaming mothers that we should want, or need to go into, or stay in “hiding”. They work their poison well. I’m just so sick of the whole adoption thing. Have been since day one. So tired of always being the bad one or the excuse for closed records. Sick of it!! So tired that no-one seems to hear what is being said about ethics and –true– ‘best interest of the child’. Too much controlling of the narrative.

    Some day. I hope to God, some day….

    Like

     
    • TAO

      June 2, 2021 at 2:15 am

      Hugs to you Cindy, didn’t stop and consider the impact on mothers. My apologies.

      Like

       
  3. cb

    June 2, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    “. And how the agency believes it is wrong for adoptees to do DNA testing because what if the birth mother wanted privacy; what if she’d chosen a closed adoption”

    I would also point out that at least some adoptees who do DNA didn’t know they were adopted before they did the test.

    To me, the best approach is education. For example, sending out info sheets with all people’s results giving advice on how to approach people if there are unexpected results will cover all the bases (i.e. not just adoptees, just the population in general).

    A lot of adoptees feel forced into going the DNA test route because they have no access to their OBC. I think many adoptees would prefer to get their OBC first. However, if one doesn’t have access, then it is hardly surporising that adoptees will turn to DNA tests. It is like “hey we have closed one door for you so you can’t get info via official channels but how dare you try to use another door”.

    Liked by 1 person

     
  4. cb

    June 2, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    Btw I came across this newsletter from the agency after searching under the author’s name:

    Click to access Fall-2012.pdf

    (pages 2-4 talk about young adoptees making contact, including a letter from an adoptee)

    Now IDK about other older adoptees on here but there is often discussion about adoptees thinking their bparents are going to be perfect and that reunioin will be bliss but I don’t think I felt that way, my feeling re reunion was always “hopng for the best but fearing the worst”. I remember once reeading an article from the 70s where a bmother said she both “looked forward to and dreaded the day” that her child made contact and I remember thinking myself that is how I would have felt re my bmother making contact, i.e. I was hoping she would and was fearing she might. It is about the unknown and not knowing how relationships would go. My point is that I think many of us older adoptees have straddled the fence of conflicting feelings and it feels a bit patronising for others to assume that we are just silly fools who see our bparents in one dimensional lights. I would imagine that even the young adoptees they talk about had the same hopes and fears that we older ones do. I would point out though that perhaps all the overly *positive* language that many of today’s modern aparents use eg “bmothers are the most loving selfless angels who walked this earth because of their act of helping us become parents” may be sending mixed messages to their children? This is why I just believei nparents talking to their children about their bfamilies in open, honest whilst still being humane ways, i.e having their children see their bparents as humans like the rest of us.

    Like

     
  5. Robyn C

    June 3, 2021 at 2:19 am

    I hate that people with the power still think this way. Adoption professionals have to change for adoption itself to change.

    Like

     
    • TAO

      June 3, 2021 at 6:22 pm

      Exactly Robyn.

      Like

       
  6. Lori Lavender Luz

    June 3, 2021 at 2:32 am

    Thank you so much for continuing to shine light on current adoption practices. Here’s my riff on your post: https://lavenderluz.com/no-such-thing-as-closed-adoption/

    Like

     
  7. beth62

    June 10, 2021 at 1:29 am

    TAO
    To share my opinion on all that, I’m just going to use a sign my son sent me. Then it’s kinda like I’m not the one doing all the cussing 😀

    Like

     
  8. beth62

    June 11, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    My families are thrilled that I “hunted them down”. My mother praised my hunting skills, calls it a miracle she never expected would or could ever actually happen. So do I. There were so many barriers purposely put in place so that it would not… could not happen.

    Closed Adoption, and this type of schooling that has been involved for decades, created great fear in my mother and I, of each other. My mother told me she had fears of me hunting her down to torture or kill her. She was led to believe that I would hate her that much. She had monster nightmares of me. Neither of us were even sure if either of us was all human, we never saw each other, for forty years. I was partly terrified at what I might find, or what might find me, too.

    Closed Adoption also led my parents to believe that they had failed, that we had failed, if I did choose to find my families. And certain failure if I attempted to build ongoing relationships with them.

    That fear, and the guilt instilled for “slapping my Aparents faces” with my “shameful and ungrateful curiosity”, didn’t stop me from continuing my “selfish” search. It only made life more difficult for everyone, especially me. Closed Adoption threatened the realness of our family, continually, to this day. Took me a long time to call BS, out loud. I’ve never felt safe doing that, even now, it’s not safe, but that fear doesn’t stop me, usually.

    Today I can say it out loud with confidence, confess in truth and with no apologies, more than ever before. I don’t choose my words lightly. I tried synonyms, for polite company: bull, crap, bunk, drivel, gibberish, guff, hogwash, lies, nonsense, rubbish, baloney, bosh, bunkum, flim-flam, hokum, hooey, malarkey, poppycock, etc. – but they aren’t strong or true enough words to me for what I am attempting to express, to adults.

    It’s bullshit what they say/said, and what is/was done using Closed Adoption. And it fucked me up and it still fucks me up. It fucked up my mother, my father, their spouses, my mom and dad, my grandparents, my husbands, my children, all of my siblings, my friends, and more. That bullshit fucked us up in too many moments to mention. It fucked up all of my families. It fucked up decades of my life. Fuck that bullshit. That’s what I think and feel about all that, and I’ve been feeling it, and thinking on it for well over 50 years.

    (Which charity would you like me to send my fbomb money x10 to?)

    I don’t think I can be more honest and clear about it than that. If anybody is thinking it now while reading this, well, you’re damn right I’m angry. Rightfully so, and not just for me. I will always be angry about Closed Adoption and what the business has done, and continues to do with it. I’m thankful today, and quite happy, that all of the professionals involved in creating my legally Closed Adoption situation are dead and buried. My Adoption is still legally Closed.

    I did my finding before DNA matching was around to help. I eventually got lucky somehow and stumbled into a very kind uncle who just happened to have a key to everyone else. When the DNA matching became a thing, not so long ago, I think I have been giggling with glee, with hope for others, ever since!

    I know so very many who hadn’t been so lucky as me, until they found DNA matches. Also know too many who are still painfully waiting for DNA matches to show up. I’ve been lucky enough to see that miracle match happen for others too. So if you are waiting, keep hope, keep checking your matches, it can happen. And it can happen more than once!

    But it doesn’t solve the problems with Closed Adoption and the rhetoric or beliefs, nor the sickness or harm that goes with it. That’s some sick bullshit, and that’s all it is.

    Like

     
    • TAO

      June 11, 2021 at 5:03 pm

      Standing up Clapping and Cheering and hoping everyone reads what Beth has said because it’s the unvarnished truth.

      You go girl.

      Like

       
  9. L4R

    June 15, 2021 at 9:37 pm

    Dear adoption agencies,

    No, It doesn’t always work out. The only one who wanted to know me was my dad. Everyone else was disinterested or had agendas….. But, I needed to know more about my bio fam, and now I do. Did it hurt? Yes, but I have gotten through it. I’ve always said that I wanted the truth no matter what.

    So, please stop treating us like we’re fragile. I now know who my bio family is. That’s huge.

    Like

     
    • TAO

      June 16, 2021 at 6:57 pm

      You are always so succinct.

      Like

       

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