Monday, December 6, 2010

Choosing Adoptive Parents for YOUR Child


Linda
If something happened to you and your children were left without parents, which couple among the following would you most like to see adopt them?  (Asked of parents with children under 18)
                                                            All        Dads            Moms

I'd prefer some nice couple
from Iowa                                            44%        41%            45%

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett
Smith                                                    25          26                24

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia
  de Rossi                                               7            2                11

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie                 6           6                  5

                                      Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes              3           4                  3
This was an informal poll in the January issue of Vanity Fair. I sure as hell wouldn't choose "some nice couple from Iowa.  I'm just thankful I never have to worry about answering that question ever again.”  Why wouldn’t I want some nice couple from Iowa?  Really, what’s wrong with celebrity parents other than their kids are often raised by nannies?  Willow and Jaden Smith seem like great kids.  I don’t know much about Suri Cruise except that her wardrobe costs a lot more than mine. 

I’ve often wondered if open adoption was an option when I relinquished nearly 35 years ago, would I have chosen my daughter’s parents to raise her as their own?  Truth be told, I probably would have. After our reunion, I learned her mother had long brown hair like mine.  She was an educator.  They had the perfect rambling Victorian farmhouse complete with a garret bedroom for my daughter, a library, and the house is surrounded by an apple orchard that’s still producing fruit today—I pass by the house regularly on my drives in the  nearby affluent horse country.  What was there not to like?  That was precisely the idyllic childhood I wanted but couldn’t give my daughter because I was a 19-year-old college student with no money and no means of supporting myself, let alone a baby.  And unless you’re Bristol Palin, I think most young, single mothers today still have a hard time in a culture that prizes Mom, Dad, the two kids, the Golden Retriever, and the mini van as the ideal family.  As I type this, I STILL believe that life would have been very difficult for the two of us; I certainly wouldn’t have met my husband because I would have been home raising a child, not out dancing the night away.  Even though I’ve carved out a comfortable, relatively successful life for myself, I can’t shake the feeling that I would have been less than had I struggled to raise my daughter myself.  But the world will never know…

I’ve said it often in here on Firstmother Forum, I simply wish that any woman who had the financial/emotional means and support to raise a child could do so, and that in our supposedly enlightened 21st century, contraception and sex education would be made available to every woman—whether married or single, adolescent or working woman, high school dropout or college graduate—to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.  But we don’t live in an ideal world. 

My heart ached when I read the story posted last month about a woman who relinquished in 1980, and the difficulties she’s having with her reunited son, now 30.  I had the same struggles until my daughter cut me out of her life over five years ago.  And I commented in that post how I ran into her at a family wedding, and she wouldn’t look at me, let alone acknowledge my presence, yet she’s enjoying a very close relationship with my younger sister, who I haven’t been close to since.  Most of the time this chapter of my life is behind me, but I’ve been reading The Twisted Sisterhood: The Dark Legacy of Female Friendships, and it all came back to me.  I didn’t reach for the Ben & Jerry’s, nor did I fall into a funk.  It just is.  Everyone has something, being a member of the birth mother sisterhood is mine.  Adoptive/birth family relationships require all the diplomacy of Mideast Peace talks; sadly, there are no easy answers.  All we can do is wait, acquire patience, and have faith.  

18 comments:

C C Henderson Swett, Esq. said...

What is wrong with this Poll is that Parents chose Guardians to care for their children in the event of their Death.

No one would chose to have their children's history to be taken away, their birth records altered, and for them to become estranged from the extended constellation of family members.

Parents - if your children are younger than 18 - chose Guardians for them, and go see an attorney in your state.

This poll is just another way to legitimize ( zing - ouch ) the adoption of children by random strangers.

Jessica Pegis said...

Nice to see you back here. I notice there was no option in the survey to choose a single a-parent! Ah, that would have amounted to too much irony.

You mention life as it might have been: I think your attitude of letting that be the business of the universe to work out is a good one.

Take care, Linda.

DENISE said...

Thank goodness the greater percentage of parents would prefer a regular couple (even if in Iowa, LOL!) over celebrities. That is refreshing.

Coco said...

I stumbled into open adoption in 1992 - which was still very much a year and time that was invested in "closed is best" and when "open" meant "you can send letters to the agency and we will answer them with blandly chipper replies for about three months, and then we'll pretend you don't exist because it's 'best' for OUR child". I got very lucky that my daughter's parents proved to be interested in me and a relationship for all of our sakes.

My first response, of course, is that I wish I had parented my daughter. However, if I were in the same situation with a similar lack of resources and knowledge, I think I would choose these same people again.

That being said, I acknowledge the luck of the draw was really at work that day, as I did no research, and some other moms who agonized over this dilemma got shafted, in many ways.

It's mostly a crap shoot, in other words.

etropic said...

Linda~

Glad to see you here back and writing!

CullyRay said...

123nvcullyyou say "we wait"... what are we "waiting" for?
and everyone talks about their lack of *resources* - unless we were 16 (and even then, I have trouble buying in), *resources* really don't seem to be the issue. Parents chose to not support their daughters and/or not grandparent their grandchild. Why is it so hard to just stick up for ourselves and put the dang blame where it should be?
If on the other hand we chose not to parent that's a whole other nut.
I met a young woman a few years back. She had been born (in the 70s) to a single mom... her Mom was from a good catholic Italian family. She lived at home and after junior college got a job as a secretary in a local business. The business owner - a married man a little younger than the Mom's father - wooed her and got her pg. When she told her parents, her mother cried and her father kicked her out of the house. The business owner?? Oh my, he was a business man - couldn't call him on his behavior, no sir.
The single Mom found another job and a place to live, and her Mom brought over food and helped with whatever she could. Both fathers never spoke to her or saw the baby.

Stacy from CT said...

I don't know about choosing that "nice couple from you-fill-in-blanks state." My daughter was raised in the Midwest though born in an eastern state and after we were reunited, there was a lot of stuck-up-we-are-better-people-here-in-the-heartland that spilled over into everything.

Maybe it was just the run of the mill defensiveness since the woman did not give birth to her, but I for one have had my fill of narrow-minded people from the heartland, aka Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Nebraska. To do it over, I'd take Angelina and Brad any day.

Angelle said...

Stacy: "but I for one have had my fill of narrow-minded people from the heartland"

Hey - me too - and the "heartland" mindset has no state or national boundaries.

Stacy from CT said...

Angelle:

You're right about the narrow-minded mindset have no boundaries, but they have told me they have "better values" than we sleazy Easterners. It's not a religious thing, either, because we are all the same. I say nothing, but a gag reflex kicks in.

Elizabeth said...

I am puzzled over Linda's comment that she can't "shake the feeling that I would have been less than had I struggled to raise my daughter myself" while acknowledging the pain of giving up her daughter and being cut out of her life after they reunited.

Although I know that raising my daughter would have been a struggle--I saw my older sister's difficulties in raising her daughter born in a shotgun marriage--I know she never suffered as I have from losing my daughter. I am sure she never regretted keeping her daughter. When my sister was dying from lung cancer, her daughter was there for her.

I am sure I would have finished school if I had kept my daughter although it might have taken longer. I would have married the same man. I would have been more successful in my marriage and my career because I would not have had to deal with the stress of loss, with what might have been, for the rest of my life. Problems would have been in the here and now and capable of being solved.

UnvisibleMother said...

Most people would not leave their children to strangers. A family member would take the children. I don't see a family letting the children go to strangers when the parents are suddenly killed. You never see that in films either.

If I was forced to choose from that list it would have to be Will Smith and Jada because they seem like decent people. But I'd be dead so I wouldn't be choosing.

maryanne said...

Really stupid poll. I'd have to go with the couple from Iowa too, given those choices, because being raised by mega-rich celebrities is not really a normal childhood for any child, adopted or not. Plus my late friend Carole Anderson, former president of Concerned United Birthparents and radical as they come was a corn-fed Iowa girl:-)

Always sorry said...

Elizabeth, I second your thoughts. My life after surrender was careening from this to that. I married the next decent man who walked into the room, and while he was a good man, he was not someone I should have married. I got married to not feel like the slut I felt like inside.

The overarching story of my life centered around the daughter that was not present in it. Still does. Do I think I might have had a happier life if I had found a way to keep my daughter?

Absolutely. Linda's comment seemed like she was trying to make convince herself that she did the "right thing" when she surrendered her daughter.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth said, "I am puzzled over Linda's comment that she can't "shake the feeling that I would have been less than had I struggled to raise my daughter myself"
Me too. If anything, I felt less than for the loss of my child. But each to their own. I suppose it depends what "less than" means to a person.

Yea, the poll is dumb, as well as creepy. Like the Esq. said, appoint a legal guardian for your children. A lot of people don't but it's a wise thing to do.

Haigha

Dana Seilhan said...

The way I see it, the life you had after relinquishing your daughter was a false life, because normal would have been keeping her and raising her. Anything could have happened had you conceived and given birth to her under "normal" and "acceptable" circumstances. Husbands die, husbands go to prison, husbands become disabled and NO, you can NOT tell what's going to happen ahead of time, even with the going to prison part. That one was my situation. He had not so much as a police record that I knew of before we got married. In fact he was military, had re-enlisted multiple times, had several Good Conduct Medals on his record (look it up) and no Article 15s (ditto), was made a corporal by his company commander (look up how unusual that is, most E4s are specialists and remain so), and was in between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Special Forces training when he got in trouble.

Got all that? LOL... Now you get the idea.

The trouble is you do not *know.* You can not ever *know.* So, not knowing what's going to happen today or tomorrow or next week or next year, don't tell yourself that things worked out for the best. You have no way of knowing that. At this point you basically should be thankful that your daughter had good adoptive parents. That is all you *can* know. The rest is a mystery, and a mystery it shall remain.

Except this part: Your daughter did not grow up knowing YOU. Your daughter did not grow up knowing your family.

My son has lost fully half of his family as well through paternal-grandparent adoption and paternal-grandparent pettiness. I'm understanding now that I *could* have raised him. I do not pretend my life went better because he was not in it. Actually in some ways the opposite might have turned out to be true. I might have gotten over myself and gotten welfare. I might have asked for help. I might well have gotten it, too. Instead I've spent the last eleven years struggling and depending on people that under other circumstances and in my right mind I would never have *spoken* to, much less intertwined my life with theirs.

I wouldn't have my daughter, either, but hey, I wouldn't have known she was in my future. And my son wouldn't be growing up wondering why I'd rejected him.

There is no "perfect life." But there IS life with your people versus life without them. If you have your own people to spend time with every day, somehow everything else is more tolerable.

Robin said...

When Tom Cruise was married to Nicole Kidman they planned to adopt a baby boy in Florida. The paparazzi got wind of this so Tom and Nicole decided not to go through with the adoption. This made me so angry. It made me realize how PAPs really do see adopted kids differently from bio-kids. I certainly doubt that if Nicole had gone to a hospital to deliver and the press found out before they wanted them to, that they would have left the baby behind. Later Nicole said that her two adopted children w/Tom were "meant for her". Actually I'm not really sure why this story makes me so mad. If anyone has any insights, I would appreciate hearing them.

UM said...

I would want my children to go to people who are ambitious and successfull. People who are not afraid to stand out, this is why I would choose Will Smith and Jada. They have shown themselves to be decent and respectful hard working people. They seem to be excellent parents too.

Once thing I regret about my own adoption experience is that my daughter went to ordinary people who are not at all adventurous. The choices my daughter makes reflect that. I have often wondered what kinds of choices she would be making if she felt more confident about taking risks.

Robin said...

Came up with the answer to my own question. Adopted children are interchangeable. Bio-children are not. Lorraine only wanted Jane. FMF's Jane only wanted Megan. Aparents want whatever child they can get. This emotional dynamic makes a huge difference to the child.