Friday, February 10, 2012

What is there to disagree with?

This open letter to adoptive parents and PAPs has been around for a little while but I thought it worthy of attention again. This letter was written by an adult adoptee and shared on a blog by another adult adoptee. These are the thoughts and feelings of a person who has lived adoption her entire life.

When I first shared this letter I got a response from a person who disagreed with the writer. The person disagreeing is not an adoptee nor is he a natural parent who lost a child to adoption. Now, I'm not saying that people don't have the right to disagree with others, of course we all have that right. In this case though, what seems like a simple disagreement comes across to me as a dismissal of the adoptee's experience. The criticism of the letter was basically that the letter made adoptive parents seem selfish and that many adoptees would have ended up in foster care anyway had the aparents not adopted them. These are the typical talking points of adoption agencies and those who wish to justify the for-profit adoption industry. When someone says to me that those kids would have ended up in foster care if they hadn't been adopted, they're talking about me and I have to object. They may not realize it but when they say these things they're saying that had I been able to keep my daughter I would have been a terrible mom and she likely would've been abused or neglected. They're making the assumption that babies surrendered by their mothers were at high risk of ending up in foster care. That's a mighty big assumption and a hugely insulting one to mothers like me who were railroaded, coerced, forced and left unsupported, mothers like me whose voices are dismissed right along with the adoptee's voices.

In the letter the writer states:
"I am not trying to tell anyone not to adopt. I am not saying, "shame on you" to anyone who already has adopted. What I am saying is, please step back and really think long and hard about the ramifications of adoption on the very person who is at the center of it all - the child you hope for or the child you have brought into your home."

This adoptee acknowledges that there are times when a child has to be taken from their natural family. We all know that, we know it's an ugly fact of life. What this adoptee is trying to accomplish is getting people to step back from the industry propaganda and HEAR what an adult who grew up adopted has to say about it. She wouldn't be saying any of this if there weren't adoptive parents out there doing the things she's talking about.
If you're not one of those adoptive parents or don't know any of those adoptive parents then great, but don't dismiss what she has to say because you don't think that those other parents exist.
They DO exist and they need to read this, understand this and put children first.

So, here are the basic points that the writer makes in the letter. Tell me what there is to disagree with here:

1. Being adopted hurts. If you're not adopted you have nothing to say about that.
2. The foundation of adoption is loss. In order for someone to "grow their family" another family has to be separated. That's a fact. That's a devastating loss for the child and a devastating loss for not only the mother but for the entire family.
3. Adoption should be a last resort. To me that's a no-brainer. Family preservation should be priority number one. Adoption should not be used to fulfill an adult's needs. Someone said to me that anyone who adopts to fill a void is delusional. If someone has been through miscarriages or unsuccessful treatments for infertility and then adopts a newborn, isn't that adopting to fill a void? What else would you call that? If they only want a newborn and don't want to take care of a child from the foster care system who is already available for adoption then that is filling a void. The child is "plan B"
4. Tell the truth to the child. Every human being deserves the truth about where they come from and who they are. It's not just about medical history, it's about basic human feelings and rights. Why is it ok for non-adopted people to delve into their genealogy, work on their histories and family trees. The "as if born to" line on adoption papers just doesn't work. Babies are not blank slates and yes there are adoptive parents who like to pretend that the child was born to them. This is why it needs to be said.
5. Support adoptees searching. Many adoptees feel guilty if they want to search for their natural families. Many times this is because they don't want to hurt their aparents feelings. The search has nothing to do with adoptive families. It's a personal issue between the adoptee and their first family of origin.
6. Don't get caught up in the adoption terminology. Who is the "real" parent? Yes, real parents change diapers, kiss boo boos and help with homework. And, yes real parents are the ones who share their biological history with the child. I am still my daughters mother. I gave birth to her. I may not have raised her (not my choice) but I always was and always will be her mother. If a parent can love more than one child, a child can love multiple parents.
7. Don't disparage the child's natural family. You would think this would be a no-brainer but sadly this happens. Just think how often it happens in cases of divorce. People sometimes let their emotions get in the way of what's best for their children and say horrible things about a child's other parent. It's just plain wrong no matter what the situation. When you talk trash about a child's parent, you're talking trash about them. It does happen and she just wants to remind people to think of the child first. Again, if YOU would never do that then fine. But there are other people that do need to be reminded.
8. Don't expect gratitude. Too many adoptees hear things like "be thankful you weren't aborted" "be thankful you weren't raised by a druggie" "be thankful you weren't abused". Anyone can say things like that. Anyone could have been aborted. Why do adoptees have to be EXTRA grateful?
9. Honor open adoption agreements. You would think this would be a given but unfortunately it's not. Open adoption is just another way agencies have figured out how to get unsuspecting, young, vulnerable, pregnant women to agree to surrendering their babies. In most states it's not legally enforceable.
10. Please don't celebrate "Gotcha Day". She makes the point that Gotcha Day and birthdays can be painful for adoptees. Be careful with these and think of the children first. These are reminders of the what the child lost. Be sensitive to that.
11. Educate yourself. How in the world could anyone disagree with that. Learning more about how adult adoptees view adoption is crucial. Learning more from the natural mother's perspective is just as important. If you're an adoptive parent, wouldn't you want to know all you could about how adoptees see the world they live in?

So when the writer of the original letter makes points such as these, is she painting all adoptive parents with the same brush or is she simply pointing out that these things happen and she wants to remind people who are thinking of adopting to consider what their child might be feeling? Is she saying that all adoptive parents are selfish? Of course not but there are aparents out there who are filling their own need to be a parent when they adopt a baby. Adoption is not about the adoptive parents!!! It's supposed to be about the child's needs being met. It's not supposed to be about curing infertility or making a profit for an agency. It's supposed to be about helping a child who really is in need. Supposed to be...... 

Coercion is still happening, women are still railroaded into surrendering their babies to adoption. Keep an open mind and listen to other voices. Don't just listen to what the adoption industry says. Remember, they profit on other people's pain.


  1. Absolutely.You cannot argue with the experience of another without trying to invalidate that experience. Shape up AP's&PAP's!!

  2. It's always good to be reminded of what's wrong with adoption as it has been practiced.

  3. Good question, how can anyone with any morals disagree? The letter by the adult adoptee cannot be repeated too often. And your comments coming from a natural mother add even more authenticity.

  4. As an adoptive parent, I've read several types of these letters, all very similar. The first time, I was shocked and in a bit of denial. I read it now, and I think, "Yes! Exactly!" No, I am not offended one bit.

    If there's anything I've learned, it's that people speak from their own experiences, even if it is from naivete. I did once, and I know I still do because I don't know everything. . . I can't. I've not lived adoption from my child's perspective nor from his mother's perspective, only from mine, as his adoptive mother. The key is to listen, be open-minded, and realize that some of our "truths" are only temporary because it's our truth up to that point. Truths can change, some don't, but many do.

    Thank you for posting this letter. I really appreciate it.

    1. I should clarify that. I'm offended that there are still APs and PAPs out there who do not listen, who take offense at everything, and don't realize that there is so much we can learn from those who have lived this life. There is so much we NEED to learn.

      I am not offended by the content of the letter.

  5. Susie Q, thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate hearing from an adoptive mother who is willing to be open minded and learn, willing to take the message in the spirit it was intended and really think about it. Maybe if other AP's see your reply they'll think about it in a new way.

    Thank you

  6. I think when people say "I disagree" but can't really say why in a way that shows a realistic rebuttal but instead just repeats stereotypes or insults (e.g. "you're just angry!" or "they'd just go into foster care anyway!), it indicates, for whatever reason, that person is uncomfortable with acknowledging another person's reality.

    I have heard people say about my blog, for instance, "well her blog is interesting but I just disagree." Disagree with WHAT? lol. I have almost 600 posts and have probably stated four times as many opinions as posts I have. Do they disagree with all say 2,400 opinions? Wow...that's a lot to disagree with, especially since some of my opinions are pretty simple things I thought all people should believe in like respecting adoptee voices, eliminating adoption coercion, equality, and bringing truth and transparency to institutions involving children for the protection of children.

  7. You're right Amanda. I've had further conversations with this person and I finally just asked him - "so if I had been allowed to keep my daughter do you believe that SHE would have ended up in foster care? Do you believe she would have been abused or neglected? He knows my history btw. That's when the conversation ended and I haven't heard a word since then.

    Disagree with WHAT? Exactly.