Every separation is a link.
The premise from the Baby Scoop era that raising an adopted child is the same as raising a bio-child and therefore nothing more needs to be said, is bullsh!t. The premise that since the adoptive parents love the child as much as they would a bio-child means all will be well, and that the adoptive parents’ point of view is all that matters, is bullsh!t.
How could raising an adopted child and raising a biological child be the same? How could anyone truly believe it didn’t matter, when knowing where one comes from is one of the most basic things every person knows or should know about him or herself? That premise is batsh!t cray cray.
The premise that all a child needs is his adoptive family–no genealogy, no medical history, no shared physical characteristics– is bullsh!t. And it can lead to a painful ostracizing and even rejection by one’s family members when an adoptee doesn’t follow that script, as this adoptee found out. He paid quite a price for wanting to know the truth about his own life story and origins by being repeatedly cast out by various bio and adoptive family members.
And the premise of not talking about all of this is bullsh!t. To not talk about it doesn’t make it go away. It only makes it go underground where it causes damage, albeit unconsciously, but is 9 times out 10 still having an effect. I mean to not talk about something as profound as being born into one family (and then being denied knowledge of those families) and placed in another. What the f**k were people thinking? Did you think that it would just go away and that there would be no effect if it just wasn’t mentioned or addressed? In my case, it lingered underground and messed me up. Any important issue that is suppressed usually festers.
It made me afraid to take chances. Looking back, I can see how many opportunities crossed my path that I didn’t take because I wanted to remain tethered to my adoptive family. I never wanted to venture too far from home lest the tenuous bond I felt with my adoptive family should be severed completely (although whether or not the bond was really as fragile as I thought it was is debatable). Also, it was harder for me to separate from not only from my family but from other people and things. I felt like I had to hold on for dear life. Yes, I do see that I was damaged. I think it made me hypersensitive to rejection, not abandonment so much, which is usually the way people perceive adoptees, because being given up felt more like rejection to me.*
Now, there are many other ridiculous premises that adoption, especially during the BSE, but even today, is still based on. One of the most succinct descriptions of the whole adoptee experience that many of us can probably relate to was written by Marylee on her blog, Marylee’s Dream:
Our bio and adoptive families both see us as “different”. We do not fit anywhere.
It takes a toll always being “different”.
And it’s not just adoptees who contend with these bogus premises. First mothers too, got a boatload of them—you’re showing your love for your child by letting him go to a ‘better’ life (although how mothers in closed adoptions can know their child will get a better life when they don’t even know where s/he is going, is beyond me); you will forget about this child and move on with your life (yeah, we’ve seen how well that one has worked out for mothers. What a crock!). Anyway, natural mothers know better than I do about the garbage they were fed.
But there is one other very important premise that we family preservationists need to get real about.
We pay lip service to the idea that “of course there are some children who can’t stay in their bio-families.” But do we really believe that? Given the number of times that kind, sensitive adoptive parents (and such persons do exist) get bashed in the comment sections of blogs, I wonder. There are adoptive parents who really are trying to understand our point of view, and I don’t see the benefit in making them the enemy. They were brainwashed by the same system we were, even those who thought it was a good thing to adopt despite not being infertile. The pro-adoption message is in the very air we breathe. Yes, they had an obligation to research the subject exhaustively, yet it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. And unfortunately, we here at All in the Family of Adoption still hold the minority view. We must clamor to make our voices heard while there is still so much conflicting information out there.
I would never want to see another wholesale ‘legalized kidnapping’ era like the Baby Scoop of 1945 to 1972. Children are not automatically better off just because they (at least at the time of placement) get a two-parent household. The bottom line is being given up for adoption hurts. Oh, I know there are those adoptees who survived relatively unscathed, and those who say they never had any problems related to being adopted, and others who say they thought they were okay, but realized they weren’t. The point is that adoption, no matter the reason for it, is usually painful to the child. We all know s/he does not go effortlessly into a non-blood related family without any consequences. But we must accept the reality that some children cannot and should not be reunited with their natural parents, as sad and as tragic as that is.
There absolutely are incompetent, dangerous, awful natural parents out there who cannot or will not safely raise their child. And those children deserve a good life with parents (even if not blood related) who can. The recurring comments to adoptive parents along the lines of: “If you really think adoption is so harmful to the child, then why don’t you just return her to her bio-parents?” usually do not know the whole story, and are making an unfair and overly critical, and often naïve, judgment of those parents. Adoption is not a universal evil regardless of the child’s situation. Everything is not always so black and white. Oh, how I wish it were.
So, can we please stop attacking the wonderful adoptive parents who visit our family preservation blogs to learn and who open their hearts to our experiences and views? Although I should probably refer to them as the BRAVE adoptive parents who come here since they know they are coming into the lions’ den and quite often do get beaten over the head. And no, I’m not cavorting with the enemy by saying that. Readers know I’m not talking about those adoptive parents who think they are more entitled to a child than his or her perfectly fit parents, and who will go to any lengths to acquire that child.
And while we are on the subject of parents, I believe adoptive parents are parents. As our regular readers know, I didn’t get the world’s greatest adoptive parents. I wouldn’t describe our relationship as “we love each other so much, they are the most wonderful people, they gave me a wonderful home, we have such a strong bond”, and yet they are my parents. Just as both of my natural parents are and always have been my parents.
So please, can’t we give those adoptive parents who really are trying to do their best for their adopted children a break? Can we come to believe that they are on our side and accept their support?
Together with them and, along with first parents, we can make a difference.
*This section of the essay reflects my personal experience and is not meant to define a universal experience of being adopted. Hopefully, others can relate and will feel validated by what I write.