Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Please stop glamorizing adoption!



I cannot turn on my t.v. or go to the movies without an adoption theme running through the story-line.  What is the obsession with adoption in this country?

I purposely watched Switched At Birth last night as I tuned out for most of this season and watched Smash and now that Smash was cancelled, I'm back to Switched at Birth.  I love the way the writers can capture what it is like living with people you are not blood related to.   It doesn't mention adoption but it really captures the essence of what adoptees feel.  It shows the difficulties inherent in switching children in families.  It does not glamorize adoption per se.

But back to my rant . . . . .I'm Having Their Baby?  The title is so disgusting to me that I can't bare to even watch it one time.  No, honey -- you are not having their baby . . you are having your baby.  If you want to hand the baby over to strangers, then it is your right; however, let's not try to white wash reality -- you are not a "birth mother" until you sign the relinquishment papers, and even then the term birth mother really annoys me.  You are actually a mother. Plain and simple.  You just chose not to parent.

I know that my opinion is probably not P.C. but that is how I see it.  You are a mother if you give birth.  Even if you never hold that child, you are a mother.  Even if you deny being a mother because you want to erase that time period from your mind, you are still a mother.   Even if your child's birth certificate does not list your name and instead lists the adoptive parents -- you are still a mother.

But why glamorize this truly sad start to a child's life?  It is not glamorous to be an orphan.  It is not glamorous to feel "saved" by people who, hopefully, but many times do not, love you and raise you well. It is not glamorous to find out as an adult you are treated like a second class citizen under the law.  It is not glamorous when friends and strangers cannot understand why you are not deleriously happy about their questions and comments about how lucky you are and asking where your "real mother" went.

If I weren't such an open book by nature, I think I might give myself a do-over and NEVER tell another soul I was adopted.  Not one kid in middle school who could use it against me and not one adult who could project their own ideas about adoption onto me.  I can totally understand why adopted kids don't want to talk about it.  I completly get it because it's like opening the door to a bombardment of questions.

Just sharing with people that I was undergoing dna testing, the questions hit me like a ton of bricks.  I instantly felt defensive, although I try not to come across that way, as my hope is to educate.  But really, why do I have to explain why my dna is important?  Why do I have to explain why I want to know who my father is like you do?

The fact that adoption is glamorized in the media is one of the biggest reasons I think people want to know about the adopted life.  Because it is so interesting.  I admit, my life is interesting, but in a weird way like I'm a fish in a fishbowl and everybody is staring down into the bowl trying to figure out why fish don't enjoy fish bowls.

Yes, in a way, I've brought this on myself because I write about adoption.  But trust me -- this was not a life plan by any stretch of the imagination.  I have fought against it.  I have told God no!  I will not continue to do this.  I quit.  As soon as I quit, somebody asks me to write something for a blog, a book or asks me to join a committee.  So I am now cooperating with God instead of fighting him, but one thing that I just can't take while I'm here trying to change laws, discuss myths and write honestly, is this glamorizing of adoption.

So please, just knock it off.





28 comments:

  1. You are so right--there is something about how adoption is glamourized in the media, and then people meet a "real live adopted person!" and then just ask these dumb questions without employing any sense of decorum, emotional intelligence or filter between head and mouth.

    Some days I'm up for it, but when I get asked just plain silly questions--where someone forgot to turn on their brain--well, then sometimes I just shut down.

    Love this post!
    Laura

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    1. Thank you, Laura -- I mainly just needed a reason to vent today. I feel better now:)

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  2. Much of what you write is compelling, but have you considered the ability of adoption to sway the mind of a mother considering abortion? Is that cause not worth some bling for adoption?

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    1. I'm so glad you mentioned this. I don't really think adoption should be glamorized for any reason, especially to sway minds of mothers. Mind swaying was used to scoop babies from perfectly good woman in the 50s through the 70s. Today, mind swaying helps women feel "not good enough" for their own children, while adoption agencies make boatloads of money in the wake of grieving women. Women can decide for themselves if they want an abortion (without the mind swayers being in their bedroom) and most who decide to carry, keep and raise their child. Woman need to stop being swayed and start being trusted to make their own decisions.

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  3. Renee Lynne DaviesAugust 5, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Truth. Every last word of it, especially the response in the comments.

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    1. Thank you Renee . . . I'm so bored with the "adoption versus abortion" debate . . . .

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  4. Not every adopted person hates that they were adopted. Not every birth mother is depressed for placing thier child. I totally 100% understand your point of view and yes I agree adoption has been glamertized but what I do t agree with is when u said most adoptI've parents most of the time do not love you or treat you well. Sorry I know a lot of adopted people who had an amazing upbringing and know their real parents and are happy they made the decision they made. Its just frustrating when people are so one sided because they didn't like their experience. Just because yours wasn't at all that great do t mean everyone else's was terrible also. I'm a birth mom and I'm not sorry or ashamed to call myself that. I have made my choice and am happy with it. The adoptive parents are amazing. Also I believe that choosing adoption instead of abortion has nothing to do with swaying woman's minds.. more like the mother is thinking of her unborn child who deserves a chance at life even if she isn't ready to be a mother or whatever the case may be. That is judging someone for their choices.

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    1. I said "many times" and I was not talking about myself -- as an adoptee (not a birth parent like you) i too know many adoptees who were not treated kindly and loved well by their adoptive families. I know many who were treated great. As a birth parent, you have a greater need to believe that what you did for your own child was a good thing, hence the bias toward believing more positive in adoption than negative. I am not one-sided at all! One of my best friends is a birth mother who was happy with her decision to relinquish -- even now at 45 years old. But I shouldn't have to defend myself and neither should you, if you are truly happy with your choice.

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    2. I always find it very interesting how people read what they want/need to believe in a post and then get defensive. Your post was right on and like you I want to quit but know I need to be a voice for adoptees even when we traveled different paths.

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    3. Thanks for the support, melomel1123. I don't really understand triad members' need for everybody else to believe and think like them . . . .we each have our unique stories about how adoption affected our lives and sometimes it aint pretty.

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    4. I'm an adoptee and I agree with you Lynn. You said "many times" adoptive parents do not love their adoptees or raise them well, and that is right. My adoptive mother treated me like an unwanted child! Fortunately, she had some degree empathy, and there were other, more emotionally generous people in the family.

      I do agree that with Anonymous that birth parents who truly do not want to raise their children should give them up to adoptive parents, particularly if, as it seems with Anonymous above, they are involved in an open adoption where the adopters don't need to deny their child's lineage, and are not just conventionally successful people, but people able to be good parents.

      But Anonymous should not deny something she knows nothing about--
      the overall frequency of much greater relative pain and lack of emotional support adoptees experience in their families and/or problems in bonding due simply to the wounds of the process not being overcome. Teens adopted as infants have a 400% higher rate of suicides than other teens.

      It certainly ain't pretty!

      But, we individuals are not statistics. We can support both truth about the (usual) trauma of the adoption process, and
      the right of birthmothers (I find the term clarifying, and it does not deny that these women are mothers) to give up their children.

      I suspect that the trauma of adoption for the child greatly varies from a number of individual factors, not simply the geneaological and physical separation. Was the mother traumatized during her pregnancy from facing the prospect of being forced to give up her child, as has so often happened? Or at peace, knowing the adoptive parents, and feeling at ease that the child would have a happy home? Now, with visits, some adopted children don't even have to experience this forced divorce from
      their own identity, or the terribly abnormal experience of growing up never knowing anyone who is a blood relative.

      Many adoptees went through intermediate strangers hands for weeks in foster care while legal processes were being completed---there's another source of trauma.

      But for other adoptees, the adoptive parents are present at the birth, or prenatally, or even house the birthmother for a few weeks breastfeeding.
      These may not seem like significant differences to us, but they are no doubt extremely significant differences to the child.

      Its all the difference between an uninterrupted stream of protection, of being cared for OR
      being abandoned...as most of us in the anonymous agency stranger adoption of the Baby Scoop era no doubt experienced.

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  5. "in a weird way like I'm a fish in a fishbowl and everybody is staring down into the bowl trying to figure out why fish don't enjoy fish bowls"

    This is brilliant. Really. Thank you.

    Valerie, another adoptee

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    1. Thank you, Valerie! I have no idea where this analogy came from! ha!

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  6. This is a great post, Lynn. Thank you for sharing this. I too am very tired of the glamorization. I can't remember the last time I watched a TV show that didn't have this theme at least a little bit, running through it! Explains why my TV is off most times these days and when my family watches it and wants me to join them, I ask first if they know this theme is present in any show or movie they are watching.

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    1. Hi Deanna . . .I remember you telling me the story of the movie that triggered your adoption grief. . . . was it October Baby? My God -- I cried through that entire movie!

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  7. I'm recently reunited with my first mother and I can relate to so much of what you describe here.
    My adoptive parents were very supportive of my search ... until I found Pat. Now they won't discuss it and there is a definite chill to all our conversations, as though I've been "bad."

    At 47, and finally standing on my own two feet, I am finding their reaction challenging. I am hurt, sad, frustrated and angry, and see now that a piece of me will forever be "other" -- and alone.

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  8. Hi Terry . . .isn't it amazing that we believe our parents are supportive until they actually have to face their fears? My a-mom meeting my b-mom was very difficult and scary for her. She was brave but she let me know she wasn't happy about it, many times over. I just really don't think women are good at sharing. This applies to being a step-mother too (another lucky role I have lived in this lifetime!) Hugs to you:) I'm sorry you feel alone. Their are some great adoptee groups on Facebook where I feel supported. My favorite is called Adoptees Supporting Adoptees.

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  9. No, we are not good at sharing, especially when this is applied to our children! I am one of those "bitter" (just "love that word") natural mothers who never wanted to lose my child, and only exhaled when I found her 21 years later. Losing her ruined my life, and did nothing spectacular for hers.

    However, I have finally come to a place in which I can live with what happened, because I have to. (This is ten years hence finding her; for many years, my anger ran my life.) That said, I don't want another woman or child to live through what we have.

    This was an excellent post, and I agree with every word.

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    1. Laura, thank you for your kind words and for sharing your story. After being a stepmother for 22 years, I have secretly believed that one of the biggest problems in adoption is having two mothers. You rarely hear of fathers going at it over adoption (my husband is a very good example of somebody who is open minded and accepting of our daughter's other dad). A kitchen isn't even big enough for two women. Adoption forces two women to be a "mother" and that plays on every insecurity women have.

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    2. no having a child that looks like you, shares many of your talents and gifts, sounds like you and was part of your body for nine months, you want to protect and love and care for that child all your life. i too pleaded to keep my baby. reunion did save my life, but reunion does not do away with 18 years of pain. reunion does not undo all the training the christian right propoganda that tears at a woman's heart. reunion, while powerful, doesn't undo years of unrelenting grief. it is not a power play of two unrelated women, it is a deep heart felt bond that tears at our very soul

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  10. Thanks, Lynn. I think the whole thing is too tangled, emotionally, to be just about sharing. Adoption seems to bring out every human emotion and hangup in living color! Thanks for writing about this -- too few people truly understand what it is to be adopted, that we aren't perpetual children programmed to be forever grateful.

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    1. Hello again, Terri. There are current submissions for a book for adoptee writings about being a perpetual child . . . I am posting the link here in case anyone wants to submit a piece. Can't wait for this book to come out!

      http://www.anyadiary.com/

      You are correct -- sharing is too simplistic. It just seems like the best adoptions are the ones where the parents are willing to share the child's life (in real life or just emotionally), instead of "owning" the child exclusively. Adoption does bring out so many issues -- it should probably be its own diagnosis in the DSM! lol

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  11. I couldn't agree with you more about the glamorization of adoption in the media. I am a birthmother (for the last 25 years) and my son was placed in an open adoption. It's been overwhelmingly positive, due in large part to his phenomenal family and their willingness to be so open. My experience has been good, but I struggled for years to come to terms with the guilt, shame, etc. that came with being an unwed, pregnant teen in 1988.
    And then along comes Teen Mom or worse, I'm Having Their Baby.
    But I have to tell you - I participated in a documentary this spring called "The Untold Stories of Motherhood" that appeared on Oxygen. It was a lovely documentary that featured women who were birthmoms or adoptive moms. I was happy to finally share my story in what ended up as a two minute segment. The documentary was classy and well done - however, it aired during the premiere of "I'm Having Their Baby." I was kind of disgusted. That show is very trashy to me. And I think it trivializes the very real feelings and emotions felt by everyone involved in an adoption.
    Love this post - keep up the good fight.

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    1. Thank you for commenting, Kim. I think it is great when a network airs documentaries (my personal favorites) in a fair and balanced way. I think we need many more documentaries featuring adoptees who had both positive and negative experiences with families and search and reunion so get a more balanced view out there in the media. Right now, all you see is happy, crying reunions and ecstatic, grateful adoptees. Not even close to the real-life messy adoption reality.

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    2. Ya there is nothing glamourous about adoption. At 50 I have just started my healing journey and glad that I have. Its hard and painful. To see my story you can go to http://www.adoptees-anonymous.com
      My heart goes out to all others of the triad that feel the pain adoption causes.

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  12. I am my daughter's father. Adopters seeking the services of professional separators of babies from their mothers, making it a shopping experience. Such an impersonal experience, white washing the sins of those who want blindness. I am so angry with adopters feelings of entitlement, sick, evil, gross. Selfish love is that, whether its a man or woman, one sided love affair does not mean the other should feel as you do. Shutting down a child in so many ways is what is prevalent in adoption but shouldn't you just feel loved? Adoption ruined my quality of life.......it has left me shaken, unending grief, our children's siblings disenfranchised for the wonderful joy of the entitled. I am in union with my lost daughter now three years, irreparable loss exists for me, my feelings run so deep in disgust for closed adoptions, or any one willing to shut out a child's family for their peace of mind, or their fanciful feelings & ideals. Just because a baby is needy and clingy of a caregiver who wants to be called mom, does not mean they don't want to be held by their mothers they have been separated from. Adoption should only be temporary, not exclusive or the limited alternative. All the industry lies.....selfish self serving people who impose their morals on others. Include the families of loss, seek out these families do not instill the fear of searching the unknown in a child's life, forcing a child to decide when they are ready about the unknown. That should be an adults job to know everything about that child and let the fear of the unknown be removed. you don't know? Find out you blissful, happy arent, suck it up.

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