Carolyn Hax the Washington Post advice columnist has taken up the quarrel with the family preservation foe, catching the torch at Ann Landers field to keep faith with the adopting class. At least Landers’ ignorance about adoption could be excused; she was an uneducated housewife from Sioux City, Iowa who simply parroted adoption industry propaganda. Harvard educated Hax, on the other hand, has no excuse for continuing to spout “adoption is the best option” except to pander to her Washington Post readers, many of whom are seeking to adopt after postponing child-bearing on their way to Capitol power and prestige.
For the past week, Hax has posted advice from readers while she is away. Here’s the latest adoption-promo piece written by an anonymous grandmother:
“My daughter became pregnant at 24 and, at the urging of her friends, made the decision to keep her baby. … She talked herself into it because that’s what others told her she ‘ought’ to do.
“Through the years, I have frequently been the primary caregiver, been there financially when things were difficult, and have been the one who has done homework, volunteering at school and known all my grandchild’s friends. …While I adore my grandchild, had adoption been the choice, I know it would have been the best one for this child. Two parents who love this child and wanted this child so much, contact with the bio family if the bio family wants it, no regrets everyday because you know you kept the baby to make others happy, and knowing you’ve done what is really best for your child.
“You have to understand, it isn’t because I resent what I have needed to do; it is all about this child’s life. …
“If I had to do it over again, I would take my daughter out for a long drive and beg her to reconsider the decision to keep her child, not for my sake, but for her child’s sake.”
As a grandmother who does a lot of baby-sitting for my two grandchildren, I understand some of your frustration but you are so wrong on so many counts, it’s hard to know where to begin. Thousands of American grandparents would give up their Florida vacations, afternoons at the bridge club or on the golf course, whatever it took, to be able to raise their grandchildren. Attend an adoption support group and listen to the sobs of grandparents who lost their grandchild. That the adoption was at their urging compounds their pain.
You place the blame for your daughter’s decision to keep her child on “what others told her do.” At 24, your daughter certainly shares accountability for her decision. Likely she kept her child, not because of bad advice from friends, but because every human instinct urged her to keep the baby. You seem to think keeping the child is the unusual path where in fact it is the norm.
Your idealization of adoptive parents goes beyond the pale. Just because a couple wants a child and has the means to acquire someone else’s infant doesn’t mean they are more loving than you and your daughter. Children adopted, even into good homes, face a host of problems not borne by the non-adopted.
In the past, social workers promoted adoption as the best way to avoid problems associated with”unwed” pregnancy. However, as the problems associated with adoption surfaced, experts now agree that most children are better off with their natural families.
Adopted children often have difficulty fitting into their adoptive families. They do not look like other family members and have different personalities, talents, and interests. In spite of a mother-to-be’s best efforts to pick June and Ward Cleaver (or the contemporary model of exemplary parenthood, Angelina and Brad), the adoptive parents may turn out to be parents from hell, even murderers. In most cases, of course, adoptive parents are like other parents--no better and no worse--sharing the same burdens which befall other parents such as divorce, alcoholism, or unemployment.
As for “contact with the bio family if the bio family wants it,” get on the internet and read the tearful posts of women in “open adoptions” where the adoptive family cut off contact or just moved away.
Regrets? I’ve never met a mother who regretted not placing her child for adoption. I know of no support groups for mother commiserating with each other over keeping their children. I’ve attended lots of support groups of mothers who regretted losing their children to adoption every minute of their lives.
Our advice to you, granny, get on your knees and thank the powers to be that you had the opportunity to raise your grandchild. Thank your lucky stars that you didn’t have to learn the hard way--the way many of us had to learn--that adoptive parents are not the idealized folks you think them to be and that birth mothers get on with their lives with nary regret. And give praise to Allah that your grandchild won’t grow up wondering why his mother gave him away. And why his grandmother rejected him as well.
Lorraine and I wish our reader the best for the coming year. May it be filled with open hearts, open minds, and open records.