Born in 1965, in the middle of the Baby Scoop Era, it was socially unacceptable to be raised by a single woman. I was surrendered for adoption at birth, never even being held by my mother. This circumstance set up a series of losses, secrets and road blocks for my life.
Adopted people, many times, feel like they need to apologize for their feelings, especially negative ones they feel toward a system (adoption) that took away their origins, name and identity. Society says it is o.k. if we are happy about being adopted (and grateful) but does not want to hear anything that may change the rainbow and lollipop ideas society has about adoption.
Adoption is like any other institution. And who wants to live in an institution? (and yes, I stole that from Groucho Marx). It is here to stay because there will always be children who need homes.
Adoption is glamorized in the media and during the entire month of November (National Adoption Awareness Month), adoption professionals (social workers/attorneys/counselors) and adoptive parents tell adoption stories to encourage and promote more adoption. Although the intent behind NAAM is positive, if you look closely, you will see a group of people missing from your television screens and favorite radio stations.
That's right: you will rarely see an adopted adult speaking about adoption. Our viewpoint is virtually invisible from adoption in media, policy and law.
This lack of understanding about the adopted adult viewpoint is also missing in the mainstream training of the helping profession. I sought professional counseling during my reunion, and I was unable to find even one therapist who understood the issues involved in a) being adopted b) experiencing a life-changing event such as meeting your mother for the first time in mid-life or c) even a basic understanding of the loss that many adoptees feel being removed from their original families. I found many empathetic therapists, who openly admitted to me, they knew nothing at all about adoption issues.
Adoption can be a positive, wonderful experience for some children -- it can also be a confusing, difficult, time for others. Most adoptees fall somewhere between those two extremes -- we appreciate the good we received through our adoptions, but we also acknowledge there are some downsides to being a minority in a non-adopted world.
There are many areas of change that must happen in the future of adoption. Sealing and amending birth certificates is one of them. Adoptees have two birth certificates -- the original, which lists the biological parent(s) names and in a majority of states is then sealed from public view -- even from the person who is the rightful owner of it (the adopted person). The amended birth certificate, which lists the adoptive parents' names, is used as the "real" document that the adopted person carries with them for life. (You can imagine the potential destructive power this has when you meet an LDA -- a "late-discovery adoptee" who never knew he was adopted until he stumbles upon some irrefutable evidence in adulthood.)
In the era of open adoption, the vast majority of us, still cannot access our rightful birth document. Many adopted people are in middle age, still wondering where they came from. Archaic adoption policy, along with discriminatory practices, must stop if we are ever going to have adoption policy that includes adopted people as equals. Certainly, a birth certificate belongs to the person who was born.
“A birth is simultaneously an intimate occasion and a public event — the government has long kept records of when, where, and by whom babies are born. Such records have myriad purposes, such as furthering the interest of children in knowing the circumstances of their birth.”
–6th Circuit Court in Doe v. Sundquist
You can love it or hate it, but when you are adopted, it's for life. You can never stop being adopted because you never stop having more than one set of parents and stop having to explain to the non-adopted why this experience we live every day is not always what they think it is or wish it to be.
How does it feel to be adopted?
Where is your real mom?
Why did she give you up?
How do your parents feel about you searching?
Why can't you just be grateful you got a family?
These are the questions we, as adoptees, are expected to answer most of our lives. When I originally began this blog, it was a way for me to process my adoption thoughts, as they were ever-evolving since my reunion with my birth family and receiving a copy of my original birth certificate. I also wanted a place to write about my DNA journey.
But most importantly, this blog's purpose is a safe place for other adoptees to visit, read and know that they are not alone in their perceptions and feelings about being adopted.
I welcome comments from non-adoptees, as long as they are respectful, with an understanding that most of my blogs are written with other adoptees in mind.
Thank you for visiting.