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  • A Dialog Between an Adoptive Parent and an Adult Adoptee

    Dawn Davenport

    17

    Dear Adult Adoptee Bloggers:

    What do adoptive parents hear when adoptees talk?

    What do adoptive parents hear when adoptees talk?

    When I read your blogs or your comments where you complain about adoption it scares me. No, actually it terrifies me.  You see, all I really want is my child’s love.  I want so much to be this child’s mom forever and ever, and have this child be my child forever and ever.  I don’t mind sharing with his first family—really I don’t, but I want a forever place in his heart. I want to believe that he is not doomed to a life of dissatisfaction and unhappiness because of the circumstance of his birth or how he entered our family.  I want to, no, I need to believe that if we love him enough, hard enough, well enough, that this will be enough.  And when I read your blogs sometime I get so scared that I can’t breathe, much less listen to what you are trying to say. ~ A Loving Adoptive Parent

    As you know, we’ve been having quite a discussion between adult adoptees and adoptive parents in the comment section of the last couple of blogs and on the Creating a Family Facebook Support group.  This discussion has continued offline via email as well, and I want to share some of that with you.  An adult adoptee active in the online community, The Adopted Ones, and I came up with the idea to try to put ourselves in the position of the generic adoptive parent (me) and adoptee (her) and have a dialog of our deepest feelings about the tension that exists.  It’s our hope that this exchange will help increase the understanding between us.

    An Adult Adoptee Responds:

    “You see, all I really want is my child’s love. I want so much to be this child’s mom forever and ever and have this child be my child forever and ever.  I want so much to be this child’s mom forever and ever and have this child be my child forever and ever. I don’t mind sharing with his first family—really I don’t, but I want a forever place in his heart.”

    We have two families and both matter – we are part of both, neither can replace the other, regardless of the flaws or actions of either, both have shaped who we are in unique ways, and will always be our family to us.  Remember that love is limitless and not shallow, add to that a lifetime of memories that can never be erased; it makes us who we are.  Why do you think we get so mad when we are told “I’m sorry you had a bad experience” or are asked “what did your parents do wrong”.  One of the reasons those statements makes us mad is because we love our family, specifically the family that raised us and they are being slammed.  Wouldn’t you be upset if someone said something nasty about your parent’s parenting?

    “I want to believe that he is not doomed to a life of dissatisfaction and unhappiness because of the circumstance of his birth or how he entered our family. I want to, no, I need to believe that if we love him enough, hard enough, well enough that this will that be enough?”

    How we feel about “adoption” or the “adoption industry” has nothing to do with how we feel about our family, completely different subjects, and one has no bearing on the other and are as different as night and day.  That our feelings and understanding of adoption and the industry have changed and matured and like anything that touches you personally, you want to make sure it is fixed when broken.  When “adoption” is done wrong or for the wrong reasons, it touches and triggers us, adoption must only happen when there is no other good option, and we expect you as parents or future parents to the current generation of adoptees to agree with this premise.  Trying to make a difference for the future, may be something you want to participate in now that you too are touched by adoption.  You can look at reform as something negative or something that should be embraced to make it better.

    “And when I read your blogs sometime I get so scared that I can’t breathe, much less listen to what you are trying to say.”

    Try to remove your personal story from the topic at hand, and remember that speaking about adoption or adoption industry has nothing to do with family, and ask what needs fixing, and then go and do some unbiased research and see if we are right.  If we are, then stand beside us and make a difference, changes to the system will be of benefit to all future adoptees, including your own children.  Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.

    There are so many different parts of adoption that need reformed that everyone can get behind at least one, and speak up and fight for: from restoring adoptees rights, to creating a mandatory best practices for updating family health history, to ending corruption by creating tough harsh laws for offenses that require mandatory jail time, to just requiring ethics, morals, and fair play to all parties, to requiring more information, education, and post adoption services.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The Adopted Ones and I hope this dialog broadens the understanding of both adoptive parents and adopted adults. Please share your thoughts in the comments. I strongly recommend dropping in on The Adopted Ones’ blog or other blogs by adult adoptees listed in my blogroll to the left, and I hope adopted adults will continue to read and participate in my blog. We need more opportunities to talk and especially to listen.

    Image Credit: supercoco__

    23/09/2011 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 17 Comments



    17 Responses to A Dialog Between an Adoptive Parent and an Adult Adoptee

    1. Josie says:

      I was told I could not have children. I did become pregnant and gave birth to a female child. Unfortunately she was developmentally disabled…she then desired to give birth to a child to “show she was normal” – I then attempted to assist her to raise her son…however, he became endangered due to her IQ of 74…I became his
      guardian – and often suggest that I wanted him to be my son because I had always wanted a son. He called me “mom”
      NOW he is 20 – I asked again IF I could adopt him and he
      said YES! I am thrilled! I have the documents ready to file, however, I want him to consider what he is doing.
      I was told that his Birth Certificate will be sealed and
      I will be replaced as his MOTHER…I explained the “legal
      rights and responsibilities of the Parent and Child relationship…IT GOES BOTH WAYS in the event I need help financially or otherwise as I age.
      He is a wonderful “good” son and I am proud of him! I love him unconditionally.
      He needs to choose/decide. I am waiting.

      • Josie, in some states the birth certificate can be “unsealed” once the adopted person is 18 or 21. I wish you peace in your wait. Sounds like you did a great job of mothering this young man.

    2. Von says:

      Sara if you read Jennifer’s comment carefully you’ll see she is not talking about all potential adoptive parents or making comments about her own adoptive parents or about whether she is angry or not. Assuming those things along with all the other assumptions non-adoptees make about adoptees will never be accurate, respectful or accord us the same rights as others.
      Adoption is adoption it will always begin with loss and trauma whatever the outcomes.It has made some cosmetic changes, some for the worse, far too big a topic to go into here and do it justice.

    3. Sara says:

      Wow. I found the additional comments on this post the other day and wanted to respond, but I needed to take a few days away to respond with my head not my gut. I understand that Jennifer is very angry with her adoptive parents for not making choices in her best interests, but to paint potential adoptive parents as dysfunctional because they want/need to have the love of their children is as harsh and disrespectful as painting birthparents as unresponsible, immature or un-loving because they chose to place a child for adoption.

      I, because I am not adopted, will never totally ‘get’ all of the issues of loss and person-hood that can affect adopted children, but I can listen, and I can respect, not only what they feel, but their right to feel that way. And if, as the adoptive person that assisted with this post states, those feelings have nothing to do with how they feel about their adoptive parents, or how ‘good’ we are as parents, then I don’t see where we are at cross-purposes.

      However, unless someone has gone through infertility and had their body fail them in the most basic way, neither can they ‘get’ the emotions of loss and betrayal that come with it, and I believe that we should be accorded the same rights and respects in respect to our feelings.

    4. (I am pretty sure this won’t get posted but it’s worth it to try.)

      This comment, “You see, all I really want is my child’s love,” is a parent who is revealing that their own love for themselves is not enough and that the love of someone outside of themselves is going to fill that hole. That isn’t adoption, that’s human dysfunction.

      As a mother of my own biological children, I don’t want or need my children’s love or secure place in their hearts.

      I want only for them to have full and joyful lives.

      My children are not objects of my life. They are subjects of their own lives.

      Adoptive parents who adopt from a place of this kind of desperate need create true problems. And this is very true of biological parents who force their children to fulfill the needs of adult as well.

    5. Dawn Dawn says:

      Jennifer, Creating a Family is a place for sharing, listening and learning, so of course we’ll approve all comments. How else can we listen and learn? All we ask is respect for others, which fortunately had never been a problem.

    6. Erin Altrama says:

      I am an adult adoptee, getting on a bit in years! At the time of my adoption no such dialogue existed or was even thought to matter. I am so releived to see how far things have moved on this over the years.

      Communication is the key. To be able to talk. To be able to listen and not feel threatened. Adoption was a taboo topic throughout my childhood and adulthood.

      I understand my parents, both sets of parents, now in a way I could not before. We are all who we are and handled it the only way we knew how, at the time.

    7. S says:

      Sara, As an adult adoptee, I believe it is not only my right but my responsibility to share about my experiences in a situation in which I had no say. To believe that somehow the time in which I was adopted or the age of the adoptee somehow negates the feelings and perspective is insulting. Where do you think this information is coming from? How do you think you are able to be more aware of issues adoptees have and what you need to learn? It’s partially because adoptees spoke out.

      Ian, You state that those involved in the adult adoptee community are disproportionately unsatisfied with their adoptions. I am not unhappy or ungrateful about my adoption. However, there are many things related to adoption that I think prospective parents need to be made aware of and begin a process for how things will be handled. Speaking out doesn’t necessarily imply dissatisfaction. It might instead signify an adult adoptee who believes it is the responsibility to teach about something to which they bring a unique point of view.

      • Dawn Dawn says:

        S, I am so glad you raised the point about speaking out equals dissatisfaction. “Speaking out doesn’t necessarily imply dissatisfaction. It might instead signify an adult adoptee who believes it is the responsibility to teach about something to which they bring a unique point of view.” All people have the right to share the negatives and positives of their personal life experience without running the risk of being perceived as ungrateful to their parents. How else can we learn and improve the institution of adoption.

        Adult adoptees must speak up. It doesn’t hurt to share both the positives and the negatives, but if you only feel compelled to share your complaints, that’s OK too. Thanks for doing so and thanks for doing it here.

    8. Ina says:

      Thank you both for your thoughtful dialog. We need more dialog like this. thank you Dawn for making it happen even when you were probably worried about getting slammed.

    9. Jess says:

      Thank you both so so so much for this “conversation”. I sit in both worlds and I am amazed at the tension that I read about online. Thank you both for starting this conversation. Both sides need to hear where the other side is coming from.

    10. Sara,

      The only real differences I can see today is openness, a more wide spread understanding of some of the challenges that are even more prominent with older child adoption, and the treatment of mothers.

      Some adoptees from my era had horribly unprepared parents who probably should not have ever adopted but we can also say the same today. There have been and will always be good parents, mediocre parents, and very poor parents and some that were also abusive…

      I do hold mom and dad up as the bar others need to stretch to reach in how to life your life ethically and morally.

      Ian,

      I am sorry that you feel that way based on one individuals words. Do you feel the same way about AP bloggers…

      Lynn,

      Do some unbiased research and thought on what the different ideas I threw out that I feel needs to improve and or change and if you agree – stand up and make it better.

    11. Lynn says:

      This was such a helpful post from my viewpoint as someone about to begin the adoption journey. I am hoping the expectant parents we are matched with are able to be a part of our child’s life and that we can do the right things for our child. It helps to have an understanding of what the concerns of adult adoptees are and what I can do to make my own child feel supported, loved and cared for.

      Happy ICLW!!
      ICLW #12

    12. Ian says:

      For what it’s worth, one of Dawn’s adult adoptee radio show guests once observed that the adult adoptee community may be disproportionately represented by those who have concerns or complaints about the nature of their own adoption.

    13. Sara says:

      Dawn, this is beautiful.  It is exactly what I would have wanted to say, only much more beautifully than I could have ever said it.
       
      It is hard now, in my place as potential adoptive parent thinking about adopting a child who is two or four or maybe even ten, to think and realize that anyone posting now as an adult adoptee was adopted 20+ years ago, and potentially even long before I was born when adoption was very different.  Now as I’m going through my classes and learning about open adoption and development, etc and then going out and reading the thoughts of the adult adoptees it is hard to remember that their adoptions, the ones they are so concerned about, weren’t like what my adoption will be.  And, more importantly, that this is a good thing that largely came about because the people involved in adoption, including and especially the adult adoptees, spoke up and demanded the changes.

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