We are such an all or nothing society. It feels like too many people miss the parody when Steven Colbert says: “You’re either for us, or against us and America and all that is good. It’s just that simple.” Maybe it’s human nature, or maybe it’s our culture, or maybe I’m generalizing because I’m sick of the political sound bite ads, (heaven help us, it’s a long time until November), but there sure seems to be a lot of one dimensional thinking going on, and the world of adoption is far from immune. It’s not just that simple.
Adoption doesn’t lend itself to such all or nothing thinking. It is entirely possible, even probable, that all members of the adoption triad might both love and hate adoption. It is entirely possible for adoptees to hate adoption, but love their life and their family or families. Amanda, an adult adoptee who blogs over at The Declassified Adoptee said it beautifully in a comment she left on my blog “Is There Such a Thing as a Happy Adoptee?”
One thing about “happy/angry adoptee” … is how very small of a box these labels put a person in. “Happy/angry adoptee” says that “adoptee” encompasses the entire identity of who a person is and then says that this one-dimensional person is “angry” or “happy.” This just isn’t so.
I am an adoptee. I am also a wife, mother, sister, student, and daughter. I am a person. I am a happy person. I am a well-adjusted person. I have positive relationships with those who are my families whether it be by nature, nurture, or law. I do not like being adopted. I am not a fan of adoption in general. …
Me not liking being adopted has nothing to do with thinking my life would have been better *here* and not *there*. It is because I have been involuntarily been put into a world of complex issues at a very young age. I was born to a traumatized young woman who deeply suffered from losing me to adoption. I was adopted by a couple who was suffering deeply from not bearing biological children and having the enormous family they had always dreamed of. I grew up with no genetic mirrors, no family medical history, and no ancestry to call my own. I am in a minority group that is unequal in the eyes of the law; a group that suffers immense stigma in society. I have dedicated myself to the uncomfortable work of appealing to society and legislators for change and hearing the same old, same old abortion comparisons, “be grateful,” and “you’re insulting your ‘real’ parents” nonsense, over and over again.
I don’t like adoption because I think it is a flawed institution. It needs to be changed. While open adoption may assuage some of the problems we closed adoptees have spoken about, there’s little data about it, it stands to have its own unique issues, and some of the core issues that adoptees struggle with are identical.
One’s decision to adopt should not be contingent upon the guarantee that the child will be in love with being adopted. If a child needs a home, a child needs a home. Providing for a child’s needs and allowing them to grow to have their own thoughts and opinions on their life’s circumstances is part of what being a parent is about. IMHO, the best thing someone can do is to support the rights and needs of children. Help mothers and children and families stay together whenever possible so that loss does not have to occur. And when loss does occur, love and cherish that dear child with all of your heart. No expectations; just love.
I couldn’t say it better, so I won’t try. Amanda does not speak for all adoptees; no one person can, but she speaks eloquently about her experience, and we would all benefit from listening. We will be better parents to our kids by opening ourselves up to what adult adoptees have to say.
As is obvious, I’m a big fan of The Declassified Adoptee blog. Let me also recommend an essay she wrote for Adoption Voices Magazine. She titled it “A Letter to My Prospective Adoptive Mother”, but it could have just as easily been titled “How To Be an Adoptive Parent”. It brought me to tears. I hope my kids feel that way about me when they are older (and consider me less annoying).