We have a lot invested in this culture in the belief that anyone who adopts is a wonderful person who takes a non-blood related child into their home and treats him or her as their own (read: biological), and that the child will always be better off. But this is clearly a fairy tale, Hollywood-esque version of adoption. Giving a child up for adoption is a risky business. Although most people don’t want to hear that because it implies that not everyone who adopts is an honest and trustworthy person who has the child’s best interests at heart. It also implies that those charged with the oversight of adoption placement are not doing an adequate job. But from what I understand, anyone can find a way to adopt if they have enough money. Yet try telling that to people who want to make every adoptive family sound as if they stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Another spin on this issue of denying the effect of adoption is by claiming that since not everyone is extremely close to their natural parents, the biological connection is obviously meaningless. One well-known actress even said that the reason she chose closed adoptions for her two children was because she and her natural mother, who raised her, were not close. But I suspect her true motivation was insecurity and self-centeredness; and I find it quite callous of her to deny her children the opportunity to know where they come from. Shouldn’t the children have at least been given the option to make their own choices about how much and who they want to know?
I mean, really, it’s quite a leap from “I wasn’t close to my natural mother who raised me” to “the biological connection is therefore meaningless.” It’s true, some families aren’t close. But they are still your family and you know who they are, and you don’t have the added psychological/emotional complications of having been given away. Besides, no one said the purpose of keeping a child in the family is because biological family members are always super tight and the child will be ensured of a fairy tale existence. I mean, wouldn’t pretty much everyone who was going through difficult times give their children away if biology really meant nothing? This whole argument is a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Yep, it’s that damn river in Egypt again.
There is also way too much denial about the long-term outcome for adoptive families. Therapist Nancy Verrier actually developed her specialty as a result of seeing so much disconnect in the adoptive families she counseled. Lorraine Dusky of First Mother Forum noted her surprise that so many of the adoptees who attended a recent event she hosted no longer had any relationship with their adoptive parents at all. All families go through hard times, hurt feelings, and in some cases end up having no contact for a while, even years. But the blood tie is such a strong anchor that over time many of these disruptions can be overcome. But in an adoptive family, the disconnection, dislocation, disillusionment and denial, the four Ds of adoption, too often cannot, and the end result is that the adoptee and adoptive parents no longer have any relationship at all, and sadly never will.
It’s hard to believe that in the 21st century there is still so much denial about the true impact of adoption. Most of the concepts I’ve written about here, I’ve read or heard mentioned just within the last few years, if not the last few months. So I guess that old joke must be true; De Nile is not just a river in Egypt, apparently it’s still adoption’s middle name.