Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Random Thoughts on Adoption at the Easter Table

At my table on Easter Sunday (4/4/10):

Told a male friend, Ken, about both my amazing connection with someone who could be my daughter, a Confidential Intermediary in a Midwestern state (We'll call her Ceil), and my newly-found granddaughter, Lisa, and how they have enriched my life.

Ken relates how a friend in grade school who was adopted was taunted by other kids, how they were mean--Oh, you're adopted! etc. I say that I hope that particular nastiness was more of a thing of the past than today, but it probably still pops up. Kids can be unbelievably cruel.

Ken, who is sixty-something, says that his friend was told the "Chosen Baby" story and we talk about how the image of a roomful of bassinets with babies for the taking is totally unreal. (I emailed Ceil about the conversation, and here is our back-and-forth discussion:

Ceil: That really is a ridiculous spin, isn't it? How on earth did it manage to play so well in Peoria...and the rest of the country?

Siting next to Ken was Joanne, who knew that Lisa had previously said: Not interested. Joanne is thrilled for me...and then adds:

I have a lot of friends who have adopted....(She does, more than me. She has more friends with more money who are somewhat younger than me--and thus in the pool of adoptive parents which grew by their demand--and therefore, more adopted kids. I know some of them only peripherally.) And Joanne adds: They are all having so many problems with their kids, and they say: 
Why didn't somebody tell me when I was adopting?
Ceil: If "somebody" means someone from the agency: Because then you might not have forked over those tens of thousands of dollars.

If "somebody" means another adoptive parent or an adoptee: Because you didn't bother to reach out to them in order to fully educate yourself  beforehand. Surely you wouldn't expect a used car dealer to tell you the truth about any issues with the "merchandise," so couldn't possibly think that agency personnel would tell you anything that might kill the deal.

At that point, we are talking, hmmm 15-20  years ago, when there was already a body of literature...and I'm thinking, you mean the baby brokers are supposed to tell you that there are unforseen problems...you will have trouble dealing with?

Ceil: Exactly....
                                                                                                   
One of Joanne's close friends adopted an child from Alaska or the far North of Canada and he was, or is still, a heroin addict. The amother was able to find his First Father...same story, apparently. Admittedly, I don't know much about this case. 

Ceil: There is some evidence to suggest that there may be an inheritable genetic predisposition to addiction....

Me: I tend to stay away from Joanne's adoptive-parent pals when she and her husband have big parties, even though Joanne tells me that want to talk to me...but at the party they, in fact, do not seek me out. I would be receptive, but suggest we not have a serious talk there and then. However, I'm not looking for adopt-talk at a social event! I want to party too! I want an adoption-free evening! I want simply to enjoy myself, talk about movies, books, politics, Survivor, gossip, whatever.  

Ceil: But of course!  Sure, they'll tell Joanne that they would love to be able to talk with a knowledgeable, insightful FirstMother, to get her perspective...when there's no immediate risk of that occurring. Put them in a situation where an honest and enlightening conversation might actually take place, and suddenly they are not so interested. The truth is... they are voicing a polite social lie.

Plenty of people secretly buy into the "less than" stereotype of a birthmother: less moral, less responsible,
less intelligent, less educated, less capable.... of anything... even while they mouth the agency line of the "loving, sacrificing birthmother."  Inwardly holding onto the negative birthmother stereotype is preferable in that it makes the adopter [her word, and just used here for email shorthand,so everybody relax] so much "more than" in comparison. Not only does such an position help to assuage any anxieties about their actions or motivations, it also allows them to think that they are more moral, more responsible, more intelligent, more educated and more capable... in every way. And "more than," in this sense, means better than, too.  Why would you seek the counsel of someone who is so obviously inferior to you? The myths and stereotypes in adoption are so ingrained, and too many prospective and actual adoptive parents are all too willing to drink the adoption-is-all-wonderful-and-aren't-I-even-more-wonderful-for-rescuing-a-child-in-need Kool-Aid.

Me: I mentioned that some adoptive parents are having trouble/are pissed off with the census form because it asks if any of the children are adopted....

Joanne and we all agree that the parents do not want to think about that or deal with that, because, as Joanne jumps in with, "to have a child then becomes such a relief after all the trouble of  'trying' the other way....and so they want to pretend that he's their child, biologically and the past...is pfft. Gone."

More Kool-Aid, please....

Me: Thank you Joanne, I was thinking, I did not have to say that.

Then she says that at the school for troubled and troubling kids that she and husband sent their son Micheal to for a year, and he was odd man out: He was neither from a broken home or adopted. The kids would say:  
You mean you're not from a broken home or adopted? What are you doing here?  
Me: I once looked up the school on the internet and saw that the school emphasized their work with adoptees..... 

Ceil: And yet, adoption attorneys are perfectly willing to stand before a legislative committee and say, with a straight face and an "I-know-of-what-I-speak" tone of voice, that research shows that adopted kids actually fare better than their non-adopted peers. cough.>

If the adoption industry was any further in denial about the harm they do, Egyptian babies would be the new hot sellers. They can't possibly admit the truth to the outside world, let alone themselves, because that might bring about the demise of their cash cow, and an end to their comfortable, profitable, niche employment.

This particular adoption myth makes me so fucking crabby. Not that you could tell....--lorraine
___________________
And on an unsettling note, here is a story from The New York Times about an inter-racial shooting in Cooperstown, NY that relates to both the previous post about recruiting minority women to supply babies to fill the demand, and particularly Maryanne's comment there, and the above post. Sad, and tragic. Unfortunately, racism is alive and well in America.

13 comments:

unforgiven said...

HA, I am a good counter-example. My AP's turned out to be comeplte duds: professionally, socially, in just about every way.

Turns out my BM was the exact opposite - ambitous, charming, went on to become part of a real dynamic power couple with an amazing array of lifetime achievements.

I turned out somewhere in the middle - heavy influences from both nature and nurture.

BTW - This BM has never spoken to or written back a single word to me despite my attempts to contact over the years. I think she was very anxious to get on with all that awaited her in life and not be burdened by a kid.

I realize most mothers here cannot imagine this but, as luck would have it, I get to live it every day.

osolomama said...

At my Easter table somebody opined that certain elements in US society would rather go to jail than pay for the surgery of African American children. that one was good for several minutes.

We had an adoption-free evening. When health care ran out, we talked about the morning after pill.

Then it was fibre.

After that it was wills.

Then cremation. (I never said we weren't twisted.)

Simone wanted to know how human ashes are kept (she has kitty ashes). I announced my preference for being housed in a nude female urn on the mantle.

Simone can point to it and say:

There's Mother. Not the real one.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Osolomama:

I know some will not read your last comment in the spirit in which you wrote it...but thanks for making me smile this afternoon.

If I had outlived my daughter, she might have pointed to my ashes and said, when asked: That's Lorraine. Not my mother.

And Lorraine is? someone would ask.

Lorraine, not my mother.

maryanne said...

Can't resist saying it....given what my son thought of his mother, I would be proud to be "Maryanne, not my mother:-)" I think he actually likes "maryanne" The "mother" title is meaningless to me. What counts is a continuing connection and affection.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Amazing the different meanings that can be inferred by the word: mother.

osolomama said...

Lorraine, I'm glad I made you smile. We smiled ourselves at the thought of it.

Carolc said...

Great blog Lorraine. Also wanted to compliment you on your lovely Easter table!

And Osolomama - I like your ironic sense of wit!

Lori said...

Personally, ashes are for me. Only I want to be dumped from a simple box into the ocean. Someplace beautiful that I have never been to.

Traveling is something I want to do and plan to do - so I better myself so that I can afford it.

Of course my daughter, for those of you that are on my FB, calls me "mom" which has enormous meaning to me. She worries a lot that I won't approve and I can't seem to reach her with the understanding that she is an adult - I don't have to approve!

Interesting thoughts. From just Mom.

Anonymous said...

"Why didn't somebody tell me when I was adopting?"

Maybe because when you tell a PAP about any difficulty with adoption, they say well, I'm so sorry you had a bad experiance. But my child will be raised differently with love.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Ahhh...My ashes, I hope, as far as I can control the situation will be released into the ocean, a source of serenity for me, and where I have chosen to live near. Since my daughter is dead (and she lived in Wisconsin), and my brothers (in Michigan) rarely visit my mother's grave...I don't want to be one of those unvisited, uncared for grave sites.

Mandy Lifeboats said...

Love the pic of the woman and the kitty-kat...gave me quite a chuckle!

Upstatemomof3 said...

As a mom of two children who I adopted I want to explain a little my problem with the fact that the census asked me to separate out which of my children were adopted and which ones were biologically mine.
First - simply asking that question does not actually give you any information about the adoption itself. I do not see what purpose there is in it if it is just to separate the two categories.

Second - there are simply not enough categories - what if I have a surrogate? Would that child qualify as "biologically" mine - even if we used donor sperm and donor eggs? Would that child qualify as adopted? What if that child we use donor sperm and my egg? Is that child now my husband's "step" child?

Third - While I am not delluding myself into believing that my children will never have issues about being adopted I simply do not see why it matters to the government. I mean what does it really tell them about society? I do not get it

Fourth - I do not think of it so much as well adopted kids have issues and biological kids do not. I look at it as each child is an individual capable of having an array of issues. So, it is not so much that being adopted makes someone different it is that each person is an individual.

But hey I had an issue with the race classifications on the census too. I got all hyped up about it and left a bunch of blanks - filled in only, name and age and that's it.

KimKim said...

This BM

I don't see a person when I see "this BM" I don't know what I see but I don't see a person.

While I'm here being annoying I may as well go all the way....

Why are we thinking we are more wise and worldy that people who adopt? We weren't even smart enough to keep our children. We weren't organized enough to be able to pay for the things they needed. We weren't resourceful enough to create and maintain a support system. Of course in most of our cases we were not old enough to have achieved those things...I was still a teenager, how many teenagers are married and own their own houses ect ect. So I am not saying we are worse people or lower.

BUT

If I was someone who owned a home and had a good income and a stable relationship and was in a position to be able to support children, I would easily see myself as being better than someone who got pregnant when they weren't in a position to be able to take care of a child. I wouldn't go to a person like that and ask their advice on how to raise the child. I wouldn't ask a person who relinquished advise on child psychology.

Does that make sense to you?

I see myself as being weak and stupid because I didn't keep my child, I don't see that I have more wisdom and knowledge about what it is to grow up adopted.

I mean doesn't it make more sense to ask an adult adoptee about those things anyway? Ask them how it feels to be adopted?