Do adoptees have freedom of speech? I don’t think so. 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 like, “Adoptive parents love their children just as much as biological parents do”, or “You’re making an assumption that the child would have had a better life if she’d been kept in her original family.” Well, those things may be true. But here’s a newsflash: Adoption is not about the adoptive parents love for the child. Adoption is far too difficult and complicated to be simplified in such a way. Oh, how I wish the love of adoptive parents was enough to ameliorate all of the difficulties of being adopted. If only! Besides, this whole “the adoptive parents’ love is the answer” business puts the focus on the adoptive parents’ feelings rather than on the child, when adoption should be about the child’s experience. After all, most adoptive parents are not adopted. They didn’t lose their whole entire families on both sides, and they weren’t put in a position where they may never be able to know who they came from. They don’t have an entire history, a whole other life that they might have lived. And while we’re on the subject, why can’t adoptees know who they are? Pretty much, I believe, because sealed records hide the dirty deeds of adoption practitioners like Georgia Tann and Judge Camille Kelley. And speaking of those two nefarious characters, it seems doubly tragic to me to see such a glaring example of woman’s inhumanity to woman at a time when there must have been very few women judges in the first place.
And about the assumption that the child would have been better off is s/he had been kept. Funny how something like this is usually said by someone who is neither an adoptee nor a first parent. In other words, by people who really have no idea what the loss of one’s genetic heritage or offspring really means. We’ve all read the blog posts and the comments by women who would have made perfectly fine mothers and who wanted to keep their child (my own mother included), and about how much force and coercion still exists today that creates so many unnecessary adoptions. And might I also mention that children do not want to be given away by their parents? They want to be loved and valued and kept. Even under difficult circumstances, those children who were kept have been known to thank their mothers and/or fathers for keeping them. Now, this is not to imply that there is never a need for adoption. Of course, some adoptees do find that they dodged a bullet and realize that adoption was the best option for them. But there should never be the option of a closed adoption; denying an adopted child the knowledge of his biological origins for all time.
I certainly hope that adoptees are loved by their adoptive parents, and I would love to see a world where every adoption is a necessary one. But for those who insist on keeping their head in the sand, here’s a pertinent comment left by Kaye at First Mother Forum that ought to shed some light:
maryanne said: “Adoption provides permanence and legal stability of belonging to a family.”
Except when it doesn’t. Adoptees are re-homed (legally or not), sent away to schools for “troubled children” or, in some cases, simply abandoned/kicked out by a-parents when the kids reach the age of majority. Sometimes before — remember the boy whose “mother” decided she couldn’t handle him anymore and put him on a plane, alone, back to Russia?
I can cite numerous instances when adoptees were deliberately disinherited, while bio kids were not.
If an adoptee is lucky enough to end up in a good family, it can be wonderful. But for far too many of us, adoption is simply hell.
Kaye’s comment may seem unduly negative but it represents the truth about adoption much more than its usual party line. Being given up for adoption, especially if the only reason was because your mother was unmarried, is no guarantee of a better life. The fairy tale version of adoption is something that very few of us get, but woe unto him who tries to point that out. We often find ourselves bullied by the “adoption is the greatest thing since sliced bread” contingent.
As a matter of fact, I cannot think of any other issue where the prevailing view on the subject is so completely different from its lived experience. I would like to see the prevailing narrative stop painting everything about adoption as so beautiful and wonderful. It isn’t. And I wish people would stop denying that an adopted child will most likely have difficulty with the fact that his own parents gave him away. Besides, his difficulty is not an indication that there is something wrong with him. There is nothing wrong with him. There is something wrong with any person who will not let the person who is actually living the experience speak about what it’s like without telling him he’s wrong.
As I said, adoption isn’t something beautiful. It’s a necessary institution, I believe, but whenever an adoption has to take place, it’s basically a tragedy. It can and frequently does cause damage to the soul of both the first mother and the adoptee. And it’s time we adoptees were allowed the freedom of speech to say so.