Sunday, November 30, 2008

Raising Awareness about Adoption

Today is the last day of November.  I woke up early this morning feeling compelled to write about a topic I've been avoiding all month.  November is National Adoption Awareness Month. My avoidance for the cause-of-the-month comes from my deep conflict about adoption.   

My understanding of the intention behind this month is that this is a vehicle to draw attention to the need for foster families and foster to adopt families.  Some enterprising souls have also dedicated the month to "promote positive perceptions and debunk myths" about adoption. I acknowledge the value of these goals. I, too, long to see every child in a loving, supportive home. And as an adoptive mother I hate the stupid stereotypes I see daily about everyone in the adoption triangle: first parents, adoptees and adoptive parents.  

But. But there is another awareness that needs promoting.  Problem is, there's no happy spin on this one, so you won't see it on glossy brochures or TV ads.  It is the awareness that adoption means that somewhere along the way something went very, very wrong.

Plainly, babies are meant to be with their mamas.  Their first mamas, their natural mamas. And mamas are meant to have all their basic needs met: need for safety, good food and shelter, a supportive, loving environment.  In any situation where you find a baby removed from the arms of their natural mama, consider it a giant red flag.

To me, the prevalence of adoption is a signal of how messed up our world is.  The poverty, shame and ignorance that propels many incidents of children being relinquished is just wrong. The shame, greed and manipulation that drives the removal of babies from their mamas by controlling family members and conniving adoption works is beyond wrong.  Adoption is a devastating symptom of the severity of global illness.

So I'm promoting this awareness about adoption - that at its core, it's wrong.  There should be no place in our world for the separation of baby and mama. 

Just to be clear, I in no way support anyone who promotes the idea that there is something bad or wrong about the mothers who relinquish their children, whatever their motivation (hurt, yes. wrong, no). Similarly I'll rail against anyone who suggests there is something wrong with adoptees or foster children (hurt, yes. wrong, never).  What I am communicating here is that our entire culture is mixed up in a system that is at it's core deeply perverse.

So I've waited until the end of Adoption Awareness Month to write about it.  Because of this on-going internal conflict:
  • To my core, I believe babies belong with their mamas.  Regularly I ask myself am I doing my part to help effect the change that will keep them together? 
  • Right now somewhere there is a baby who, for the evils of this world, needs a mama. Do I continue to grow my family through adoption, all the while weeping and angry for the need of it?

Here are some resources for a new understanding about adoption.
Bastard Nation's Adoptee Rights website
- Nancy Verrier's article on the effects of separating baby from mama
  (and a fascinating rebuttal)
Ethica - A Voice for Ethical Adoptions
Pact - my favorite adoption support resource


seattler said...

I appreciate this heartfelt post. However, I just want to point out that sometimes adoption is a very GOOD thing. Not all women (or girls, as the case may be) are ready to be mothers when they find themselves pregnant. Not all WANT to be mothers. I realize that it would be best if all babies were wanted by their birth mothers, but that just isn't how things go sometimes. And it isn't always due to outside forces such as poverty - sometimes, people just aren't cut out for the role that is thrust upon them. Thank goodness, in these cases, for adoptive parents.

Kathymom said...

It's hard to believe you are an adopting mother. My own daughter's parents still believe in the "tabla rasa" (blank slate) theory. They are not happy that I am in my daughter's life. I searched and found her at age 26. She is now 36. They tolerate me, but would prefer I crawl back under that rock.
Regarding what seattler said: I know many, many mothers of adoption loss, and those who didn't WANT to be mothers are extremely rare. In fact, more rare than rape. That's a fantasy you want to believe in. Why do adoptive parents cling to the "crack whore, prostitute" image for a woman who is forced to surrender her child? Maybe it's more prevalent today, but that's only a recent trend. Read "The Girls Who Went Away" and you will read about REALITY.

maybe said...

"Adoption is a devastating symptom of the severity of global illness."

You are so right about that! Babies need their natural mothers first and foremost. Seattler has bought into the steortype of the young mom who would rather be out partying. This type of mom is a rarity. What is more common is lack of family support, shame, and desperation. If these problems are removed, adoption will rarely occur. Unfortunatley, that cramps the style of the adoption industry.

Thank you for your honest post and for looking at adoption from the view of the mothers and adoptees.

the need for a father? said...

Please see the link >

AdoptAuthor said...

Bless you.

Sara said...

Thanks seattler for sharing your perspective. It is an idea I'm not often aware of.

Sara said...

Kathymom, I, too, am stunned by they stereotypes about first moms. I do think they make the marketing message easier for the Industry. And it must distract from the sickening truth that this is someone else's baby.

Honestly, I bought the message lock, stock and barrel. It wasn't until I was finally home nursing my wee baby (after a week in another state waiting for paperwork to go through) that it hit me that this was Somebody Else's Baby. I cried for them both for weeks and weeks.