As I have mentioned before, I don’t believe adoptees have freedom of speech. Whenever an adopted person tries to bring up the fact that adoption is not all it’s cracked to be, he or she is met with rebuttals. I analyzed several of those rebuttals in my earlier post. So now I’d like to share another rebuttal, and one that I consider the piece de resistance—
“What did you want your mother to do? You were unwanted. She did what she thought was best for you by giving you up.”
Obviously, anyone who could say such a thing has been too influenced (brainwashed) by the adoption industry and is unfamiliar with its tactics. They are also clearly unfamiliar with what happened during the Baby Scoop era (and still goes on today) and are unaware of our efforts towards reform. As those of us in-the-know are aware, it’s hardly the case that every single mother freely gave her child up for adoption with nary a backwards glance. But try telling that to these self-styled experts and you’ll probably get either a blank stare or be out and out told that you’re wrong. Yes, some of us adoptees were given up because we were unwanted, but we know this is hardly the prevailing attitude of mothers who end up relinquishing.
And then there is the issue of whom do we consider our family and what should we call them. I find it ironic that many of us from the BSE were led (forced) to believe that our natural mothers were not really our mothers at all. If that were the case, then why were our mothers referred to as unwed mothers? Why weren’t they just called unwed person or unwed female or maybe just unwed blob, for that matter? I mean, if she truly isn’t my mother, why is she being referred to as a mother at all? The nomenclature belies this belief.
And what about the rules for how we should refer to adoptive and biological family members? I had a sister who was my sister in every sense of the word. I shouldn’t have to refer to her as my adoptive sister. I consider her my sister, plain and simple, and I was blessed to have her in my life. It should be up to me, and only me, to decide. Just as for those adoptees who don’t feel any connection to their adoptive parents, and don’t consider them their parents at all, they should be able to choose whether they will refer to them as their mother and father, their adoptive mother and father, or even by their first names. I don’t happen to share that sentiment, but I do believe adoptees should be given freedom of thought and freedom of speech to think and say what they believe about their familial relationships.
And then there are those deeper psychological issues, which in most cases you might as well give up hope of ever being able to get across. Things like–feeling like we don’t have the right to exist, that we came into this world as a ‘mistake’, as a burden, as unwelcome, and how that affected us. But who is willing to listen to that, unless they experienced it themselves, and without immediately telling us everything turned out as it was meant to? Of course, these various psychological issues are as varied as adoptees themselves, but it would be nice to be able to bring them up without being so quickly dismissed.
Or what about our right to speak up when we see one of those “Ain’t adoption grand, Ain’t adoption beautiful” stories that are so prevalent in magazines and on television shows? I came across one such story not too long ago about actress Sara Rue (People magazine, December 5, 2016, Peoplebabies section). Ms. Rue, the biological mother of one child, stated that she and her husband had always wanted to adopt. The article was quite glowing about how the adoptive mother-to-be was with the expectant mother every step of the way–constant contact, never missing a doctor’s appointment, and even present at the delivery.
Well, I saw the article entirely differently than what I believe was the message being conveyed, and what most readers not in-the-know would take away. By being such a hands-on potential adoptive parent, Ms. Rue cannot make the child any less adopted, or make herself anymore the child’s real parent, which, I assume, was the point of the article. I knew from reading other regretful first mother stories that Ms. Rue’s behavior as a helicopter prospective adoptive parent would more than likely instill a sense of obligation in the expectant mother, and would make it that much harder, if not impossible, for the expectant mother to change her mind about going through with the adoption, if she were so inclined. I don’t know if it’s significant but I also noticed that the article didn’t give the child’s exact date of birth, as they usually do, just the month and year. The article had such an “aw shucks” feel to it that anyone who argued that adoption is anything less than wonderful and pretty much exactly the same as biological parenting (with the adoptive parents in the hero role) would probably be tarred and feathered.
Unfortunately, as our political environment becomes ever more conservative, I do not feel optimistic. I believe it will be even harder for those adoptees who do not toe the party line to have freedom of speech. The conservative movement tries to convince us that only married parents can best raise a child. Yet a mother’s love as well as her intense desire and ability to raise her child are not dependent on marital status; it has always been society that insisted on that connection, not mothers themselves. But old habits and beliefs die hard, and unfortunately, history does seem to be repeating itself. I strongly fear a second Baby Scoop era will occur as this new (but really recycled) mindset takes over this country and other parts of the western world.
For that reason, it is more incumbent than ever on those of us who know what adoption really does to keep speaking our truth. We must not let them silence us.
N.B. This post is dedicated to Judge Merrick Garland who, according to the Constitution of the United States of America, was entitled to hearings and a vote on his nomination to the Supreme Court. He was chosen by a sitting president and there is nothing in the Constitution that precluded his nomination from going forward during an election year. Republican senators, however, refused to do their job. Instead, a new Supreme Court justice has been confirmed to fill the seat vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia by only a simple majority vote, and who was the pick of a president who is under investigation by the FBI.