Monday, October 7, 2013

Adoption Misconceptions



Today I will be speaking about something that is close to my heart. It might have a touch of rant in it so please bear with me.  I’m struggling with the misconceptions people still have about adoption. Misconceptions that still turn up in books for teens.  Misconceptions that could hurt them. 

As most of you know both my children are adopted and we're currently looking for more children, so I do have very strong feelings about this. 

First and foremost, you do NOT ‘give up’ a child for adoption.  Maybe back in the days when people would hide their pregnancy and never ever see their child again, even then I’m not so sure.  But not now.  Not even close. You place a child with adoptive parents.  You NEVER give that child away. Not only are those words damaging to the child, giving them away is impossible.  Even if a biological parent doesn’t choose to stay in contact with an adopted child that child is a part of them, and they are part of the child. There is no way around that.  You can no more give those pieces away than you can cut them out.

Second, placing the child with adoptive parents IS NOT SELFISH!  I can’t believe that people still believe that! There may be people who do it for selfish reasons but most of the biological mothers I know that have made the choice to place their child for adoption made it because it was best for the child, not best for them.  Honestly, it is the hardest thing anyone can do. Ever.  Imagine carrying around a Christmas present for nine months.  Holding it in your hands, all day, every day, arranging your life around it, feeling the smooth paper, hearing it crinkle, wondering what could be inside. Then, on Christmas morning, without opening it, you give it to someone else and say “here, this is for you.”  But really, that doesn’t even cover the pain and sorrow that is involved because a child is part of you.  Maybe I should have likened it to cutting off a hand and giving it away, but that is a little gruesome. I can’t even describe the anger I feel when I see a mother who chose to place her child for adoption called selfish. And when I see it in a book, where it may influence teenagers I want to cry.  Someone may see it, someone who may choose to keep the child because it’s the ‘noble’ or ‘selfless’ thing to do. And if she’s not ready, if that’s not the best decision, then they both suffer for it.

Mother’s that place their children for adoption are the bravest strongest people I know.  Calling girls that place their children for adoption selfish is not only wrong, it is damaging both to them and the child. It’s an insult because they are being more selfless than most people will ever be. And putting those things in books only propagates the hate and misunderstandings.

Another misconception is that only young or teenage girls place their child for adoption.  It’s not true. Older women, who feel they cannot provide the life they want for a child also make this decision.  The biological mother of both my children is my age. Which means she was in her mid-thirties when they were born.

More and more single/young parents are choosing to keep their child and this is wonderful.  If a mother feels that is best for the child and best for her then I honor her decision and think she’s amazing for facing this challenge. If she chooses to place a child for adoption then she is the best and bravest person I know, and she’s made some adoptive parents so incredibly, indescribably happy. Whatever she chooses, as long as she’s chosen thoughtfully, is the right decision, and I support her.  Honestly, both choices are dang hard and she (and the father if he’s involved) are amazing for doing their best.

If you are facing this decision, good luck to you. Its okay, take your time and make sure you make the best decision for you and your family.  Talk to people you trust who accept you. Your family is a good place to start. If you can’t go there, go to friends. If you don’t have any friends there are agencies and organizations that will help you. If you can’t find one, or don’t feel comfortable there, email me.  Because someone cares about you. Even if it’s only me.

29 comments:

  1. I'm an adoptive mom too and so agree with you on this, Sara. Besides the misconceptions about adoption, one of the things that saddens me in children's literature is the fascination with orphaned kids who either have no new family or a bad family. It's so unlike the real situation for adopted kids who have very loving, happy family situations.

    Good luck in your adoption of another child. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law leave for Kiev next month to adopt a child. I'm so excited for them. Can't wait to hear your good news too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I enjoyed what you had to say. I was adopted by my grandparents at the age of 5. My "Mom" was 15 and divorced. She wanted better for me. I never thought of my adoptive parents as my grandparents. I have always acknowledged my "mom" as my sister. The only time it has been a little awkward is when my kids were born. She is not grandma, but she is still considered special. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm glad you and your family have a connection that works for you, and I'm glad you're still able to be part of each others lives.

      I almost didn't post this. Adoption, like families, are so varied and complicated they can't be summed up in one post. I know not everyone has had the same experience as I have but there are some things that people need to speak out about or they'll never be changed.

      Delete
  3. Well said, Sara. Placing a child for adoption is brave. BRAVE. And selfless.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My dad was adopted. Thank goodness!!! You know what I've noticed about parenting in general? People have such STRONG opinions about it. Whether it's accusing a birth mother of being selfish or assuming that, because a father has custody that the mother is selfish or a "bad mother," people are very, very quick to assume the worst. Really, we need to stop being so judgmental. Nobody truly knows why decisions are made. As long as children are loved and taken care of, isn't that all that matters?

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is a very difficult decision for anyone to make. But often it is for the better. I wish it was easier for adopted kids, once they become adults, to find their genetic parents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is becoming easier and easier. Most adoptions now a days are open adoptions. Ours are. We are in contact with their biological families regularly. It's easier for the child if they understand the situation. Our kids know both families so there's no mystery as to who or what, plus, they know they why and how of the adoption. They know it was because everyone loved them so much, not because nobody wanted them.

      Despite that fact that having four sets of grandparents spoils them rotten, they need the reassurances that come with knowing their biological roots.

      Delete
  6. Well said, Sara! As you may remember my brother and sister-in-law have two adopted children; therefore, much of what you shared falls close to home. Take care, dear friend!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sara, this was a really important post and I feel it deserves a wider audience than the blog. Is there someplace you might submit this?

    My sister's older daughter is adopted and the biological mother is her age (both mid-thirties.) Like so many things, there is a lot of erroneous thinking that begs clarification.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't considered it but maybe I will. I'd have to look around and see what would accept something like this. Plus I'd have to clean it up, check for commas (My Nemesis) and maybe make it less of a rant. :)

      Delete
  8. Amen and Amen, Sara! Until we make choosing adoption as the most attractive choice, we will still have abused and neglected children. And that's a topic that's dear to my heart.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Did something happen to spur this post?

    I never even knew people assigned the term "selfish" to adoption. I always thought it was the most selfless thing a woman could do...

    ReplyDelete
  10. I totally agree 100%! I can't believe people would even think placing a child for adoption would be seen as selfish. Just makes no sense!

    ReplyDelete
  11. As several others have already said, I can't imagine how anyone could even consider associating the word "selfish" with the agonizing decisions that go into placing a child up for adoption. I consider it the ultimate act of selflessness, and a priceless gift for both the child and the adoptive parents.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow, people really think it's selfish? I think it's brave. I loved being enlightened by your experiences and knowledge. Placing is a much better word.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks everyone for all the support. I'm so excited to hear so many people have connections with adoption, and I'm even more excited to hear that so many of you feel as I do, that these people are amazing and brave and to be admired.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I never thought people believed it's selfish. Oh. Wow. It takes a lot of courage to give up a child, especially when you're praying that the parents you choose are the right ones.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Changing attitudes takes one step at a time. At least that's what I keep reminding myself every time I hear someone saying something stupid.

    ReplyDelete
  16. It just goes to show you some people fit the saying, "Better to be silent and thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt."

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yes, Sara, you have every reason to feel this way. Giving up a child for their well being has to be a heart wrenching decision...

    God bless all you parents who adopt. It is such a wonderful and giving thing to do. It's the hardest job in the world.

    All the best to you and your new family member, when it happens!

    ReplyDelete
  18. It boggles my mind that anyone who places a child for adoption could be considered selfish. I've always seen it as a great gift--the gift of a better life than the one that parent feels they could provide. How is that a selfish act?

    Thanks for writing about this, and sharing a little more about your family. Best wishes you get to add to your brood! :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you for this post Sara. You're right - I see that "give up" phrase all the time. Now I'll be more aware and hopefully won't use it myself!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I found this blog super interesting. I sometimes handle adoptions as an attorney, and I have rarely had the same uplifting experience as when a family is legally united. So cool and something to be respected.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wow. Just wow. It's so true. Isn't it crazy how we get things so mixed up in society? My brother is adopting his second child right now, and I know first hand what kind of homes these are, but the emotional repercussions in the biological parents lives... I can't even imagine.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I know quite a few people with lovely adopted children who would be your "amen choir". Here's to moms and dads like you all who open your arms and hearts.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wow. Bravo! You're so right. Of course it depends on the individual situation, but the idea that teens are potentially being influenced to avoid adoption... That's bad, I so agree.

    ReplyDelete
  24. You're right, people do have a negative way of looking at adoption, which is often unfair to the parties involved.

    ReplyDelete
  25. It's good to read a post like this and understand the impact of the way we use words eg 'give up' vs 'place with'. It's a good reminder that we shouldn't generalize either.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Lovely post, Sara. Hope all is well.

    ReplyDelete