Should I not talk about adoption then if my view is biased? Should what I have to say be discounted because of my particular experience? When I hear the words... "just because you had a bad experience", my jaw clenches, my back stiffens and my blood pressure rises. Yes, I had a bad experience. Does that mean that everything else I say about adoption should be ignored and dismissed as the ramblings of someone who is just bitter and angry?
Everything I experienced as a mother of adoption loss and as an adoptee colors my vision of adoption but I also have the sense to learn, read, study and listen to other mothers and adoptees. I don't speak for the entire world of adoption, I speak for myself and of my own experience. It's interesting though that my experience is remarkably similar to many thousands of others and their experiences. That in itself speaks volumes about why the dark side of adoption has to be exposed. Why else would there be so many groups and communities of people getting together online to share these life events with each other. We need each other's support. There's comfort in being understood and realizing that we're not alone, especially when the majority of people in our communities don't have a clue what life inside our side of adoption is really like.
I had a discussion one day with a dear friend who also happens to be an adoptive mother. I was saying that I didn't believe adoption was necessary, even in the case of children already available for adoption who are in the system and waiting. I told her I thought permanent legal guardianship was a viable alternative. Up until that day we had had many discussions about both of our histories with adoption and she has agreed with the work I do and my views on the subject. This one area seemed to be a sticking point though. She felt that the children needed something more than legal guardianship - they needed adoption to feel as though they were truly a permanent part of the family. I totally agree with her that we need to make a system where children have permanence and consistency within a loving family but I didn't see any reason a child couldn't have that within legal guardianship.
The word "adoption". This is where the trouble lies. Once we both got clear on what we meant by the word adoption then we realized that we really did agree. It was just that word that was getting in the way. In general when people think of adoption they think of a child joining a family, being loved, protected and cared for for the rest of their lives. Ideally, that's what would happen. But.... in our system the way it is, along with that possible scenario is the erasure of the child's entire history - family name, genetics, medical information etc... In too many cases, a child's name is changed without consideration for his natural family heritage. His legal documents are changed to become lies and the child is the one who is expected to "adopt" and adapt to a new family history. When broken down into it's most fundamental elements, adoption is nothing more than a lie. This is what I object to, not the idea of a child having a loving home.
A child can have the exact same thing - a loving, permanent home - without the lie of adoption. I don't believe the child will feel less safe or less loved if he's allowed to keep a connection with his original family. If he can't keep that connection physically then he should in the least be able to keep a family name if he chooses, be able to have all of his TRUE birth documents, be able to have a family history of his own in any form that's available to him. Encouraging him to stay connected to where he came from should always be part of that loving home he's placed in.
We have to get people to understand exactly what the word adoption means and what it does in order to change it. Adoption as it is today is nothing other than ownership. Dogs and cats should be adopted, not people.