As I sit here on the computer watching the flight status of my returning daughter I've decided it's time to open up a bit on a difficult topic. Saturday was National Adoption Day. Many, many of my Facebook friends felt compelled to post cheery, up beat messages thanking the birth families for their "gift". Four or five years ago I would probably have been one of the herd of adoptive Moms typing a similar glib blurb. Why was this year different?
Not sure if I can articulate my feelings yet. That's one of the reasons I've never addressed the topic before. That and the fact that Mari is in a stage of conflict on the subject and I want to respect her feelings of not "blabbing about my adoption". Still I feel that there are things that I've learned, or experienced, or am processing that may be of value to another adoptive Mom just behind me on this journey....
These are the things I'd like to share at this point in time. In an attempt at brevity, let's just start from the point in our story that we had progressed through nature, fertility, and one disrupted adoption using a working template that we NEEDED children to have a 'perfect life'. As we approached the girls' adoptions we were not quite ready to let go of that template though we had modified it several times along the way. Actually, we were in a serious period of self examination on the topic of the "need" for children when Mari's picture popped up in an e-mail from the agency that had supervised the failed domestic adoption. I'd like to lay the full blame on them for the justifications we used to proceed with the adoption but I can't...the agency touted the complete and total severance of the birth mother's rights during the adoption process...and to our hearts still bleeding from the disrupted domestic adoption that sounded like balm. Yes, here is the point where I can now say that it was all about US. All about our rights. All about our wants. All about our needs. At the time we adopted we were in a very selfish state of existence. I will also honestly say that in that state I could not or would not have heard the other voices that speak so eloquently [and some not so eloquently!] on the inequality in the adoption triad. Then we went to Guatemala.....
Ironically, that trip to Guatemala to collect OUR daughter and bring her HOME was the start of our awakening. Initially all we saw were the horrible conditions [using our American measuring stick of course!] and a sense that we needed to do something more for the people of that country. Sadly we were still in a neophyte stage and thought that adopting more children to "get them out of those conditions" was a very logical option. We had only the barest perception that others were experiencing 'inconsistencies' with their adoptions back in 1999 when we were 'in process'. It was during Julia's adoption that the VERY REAL FACTS of adoption corruption became personally clear to us. Now don't get me wrong. I'm NOT saying if I had it to do all over again I would NOT adopt Mari or Julia! I am comfortable with the fact that we did what we knew best at the time. What I am saying is that as I know/learn more I must change. I cannot be the selfish and naive 'good girl' who espouses all the wonders of adoption anymore...because I now KNOW it is not so wonderful for two of the three sides of the adoption triangle.
My daughter's birth mothers did not make their choices because they wanted to give me a "gift". They were loving women caught in tragically complicated circumstances where adoption looked to be the best decision they could make at the moment. How horrible to know that your life is in such a state that sending away your children is the "good" choice?!?!? On this topic I am the least evolved and I expect that as I continue my journey that this will continue to grow in its complexity. I leave this to another time though because right now I am focused on the not so wonderful effects it has on my children.
Contrary to the Susie Sunshine posts and Knights in the Defense of Adoption there are varying degrees of impact on every child in an adoption. We have some effects in our children. Doesn't mean they aren't lovely young women who will lead very productive lives but it also doesn't mean that they are whole. One is more wounded than the other which makes it hard. Ironically the one with the more intact family and foster family structure in Guatemala is the most scarred! We are no longer so selfish....but we are not yet selfless. We are working on it.
Right now I have to hop in the car and head off to the airport. My baby is coming home...again.