Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Question Posed

Recently, on Facebook, a friend asked me if I'm anti-adoption. Below is the rather lengthy, long winded reply I sent to her in a private message. I think it delineates my feelings succinctly.


I just wanted to reply in this forum to your "personal question". Most of my FB friends have a good bead on my feelings about adoption, so it's not a "hiding my opinion" from them. I just didn't want any post to get lost in the shuffle, so to speak.

Yes, I am anti-adoption. Let me explain further before I go into why I am anti-adoption.

I am both an adopted person and a birth mother. I use the term, "birth mother" for those that aren't as familiar with other terms. Many preferences are first mom, natural mom or just mom. However, considering the nature of adoption, labels become necessary. The vast majority of "birth mothers" I know simply would prefer to call themselves what nature made us, moms. It took a long time for me to come around to this point of view, and I'm not nearly as offended by the term birth mother as others are. The reasons for this are due to my passion for midwifery, and the term birth doesn't have nearly the negative meaning for me as it does many other women. For many women that lost children to adoption, the term birth mother is derogatory, nearly as much as saying the "N" word to a person of African/American descent. The term itself was created by an adoptive mother, made to replace the term "natural mother" in adoption lingo. It made adoptive mothers feel bad. For many women who lost children to adoption, the feelings of the adoptive mother don't mean a whole lot to them. Using the term "birth mother" tends to make "us" feel as if we were only breeders, incubators, and that's simply not the case. In any other circumstance, the vast majority of first moms would have parented their children instead.

Now, as to why I'm anti-adoption.

Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Adoption in this country used to be for placing children into a warm, loving, secure environment when their families no longer existed. In other words, adoption was originally meant for orphan children. It has changed since World War 2 into providing infertile couples with children. Basically, the focus changed, shifted from the child to the adults. And this being a strong capitalist society where if there's enough of a demand, someone, somewhere will find a supply. (Just as a side, I believe in our capitalist society; I didn't want that coming out like I'm anti-American. I'm NOT! I've very patriotic.) To further illustrate the supply and demand theory of infertile couple based adoptions, it is important to point out that only the people who could afford to pay for the home studies, attorney fees and/or agency fees would be able to adopt. If the infertile couple were poor, well then, they wouldn't be raising children.

Because of this, an industry popped up around adoption that today spends on the order of $3 Billion a year to keep going. In an effort to supply the huge demand for babies, a great deal of study, time, effort and money have been put into figuring out how best to make adoption palatable to poor, single women. Since our society has turned away from the shame based adoption (telling single young women that they're not good enough to parent), adoptions have gone down in drastic numbers, domestically at least. That's why you see so many people turn to international adoption. Now, poverty is the key to making young mothers hand their children over. However, the adoption industry has made concerted efforts into ensuring the young mom that she isn't shamed into the decision (at least on the surface), but instead telling her that her child will be so proud of her when she "makes something of herself" (gets that high school diploma or college degree and gets a good job).

All the while, this attitude perpetuates in our society the idea that the woman who placed a child for adoption just wanted to be loose, carefree and "go on with her life", when for the most part, nothing could be further from the truth. This continues to make "birth mothers" stigmatized. Once we were immoral sluts who couldn't keep her legs together, now we're poor immoral sluts who just want to keep having a good time.

As I said in the beginning, adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. A poor, young mother isn't always going to be young and doesn't always have to be poor. We have so many options in this society, that youth and poverty are simply excuses to obtain a healthy infant to place into the awaiting arms of an infertile couple.

That said, I understand that some of those poor, young mothers do a horrible job. In this country, we are innocent until proven guilty, and we cannot simply take a child away from a mother because of her youth or economic status. That being said, the mother who allows herself to become mired in a bad situation (drugs, abusive relationships, neglect of the child), and becomes an unfit parent, placement of a child or children into a warm, loving stable home in a foster to adopt is sometimes the best solution for the children; but should only be looked at as a last option.

I don't hate that I was adopted. My first mom and dad would have never married, my first mom was 17 when I was born, and was told by her father when she was pregnant with me that she ruined his life. She was maneuvered into placing me for adoption, but I don't think she saw much option in the long run. For the most part, I love my adoptive family (though, if you read in my notes section "The Story So Far", you'll see that my life has been far from idyllic.) My adoptive parents did the best they could with what they had/knew. Even if my adoptive father was a psychologist, he really didn't have a good bead on the trauma of an adopted child and the gratitude and perfection that child unconsciously takes upon themselves. So, my adoptive parents really did do the best they could.

As for placing my son for adoption, all I can say is that for me it was the worst decision of my life at the same time, perhaps being the best decision for my son. But to be honest, I'll never know, because I too was maneuvered into placing my first born for adoption. I'm frequently praised by my noble, selfless act and that I should feel proud of myself for placing my son for adoption. All I feel like is a failure as a mother because I didn't fight to keep my son with me where he belonged and now my first born treats me with indifference because he doesn't understand how painful my life has been without him.

I hope I didn't bore you to tears. I hope I didn't make you angry, or hurt your feelings, because that wasn't my intention. These are the reasons I am anti-adoption. For many women, it is a horrible, painful scar that never goes away, even with reunion. It is for me.

1 comment:

  1. aw.. So nice to read this, Dana. :) A very nice eye-opener, i appreciate you opening up and saying all this! I had absolutely no knowledge or opinion on the topic and I'm glad to have read all sides of the story. Very nice. :)
    Thanks again, and I'd like to keep in touch with you.
    Love Rebecca (I'm on fb)