"Adoption is a courageous decision" with "loving" often inserted after courageous is an oft-repeated phrase from the adoption industry's lexicon. The truth is, though, that adoption is never a courageous decision. Instead, it is a life-altering decision driven by fear and desperation.
Fifteen year old Sammie Pohle who "made the adoption plan" which enabled Bob Gallaher and his wife Colleen to become parents admitted "I was scared, I was disappointed in myself. I just wanted to shut myself out from the rest of the world and disappear." Her mother, Amy Veltus, added, "There was a little anger, scared for her, worried, a lot of stress."
For Sammie and her parents adoption was the easiest decision, at least for now. In the 16 months since her daughter was born, Sammie and her family have had the opportunity for visits and have been able to watch the baby develop and grow.
DESCRIBING ADOPTION AS 'BRAVE' HIDES THE TRUTH
The wonderland that is adoption is filled with Orwellian newspeak (or as the industry puts it "positive adoption language") to distort the reality of adoption loss: pregnant woman and mothers make adoption plans; children and parents don't reunite, they make contact; pregnant women considering adoption are birth mothers, and adoption is an act of bravery.
For many mothers, including myself, adoption was a cowardly decision. Sign a paper and you're done--or so I thought. Taking on the responsibility of a child, (and in my case dealing with society's opprobrium) was scary. The language mothers use today to justify giving up their child: "I'm not ready to be a parent" is code for "I'm afraid to be a parent." Other mothers give up their babies because they are in a fearful situation, for example, living with an abuser. Adoption is the lesser of two bad situations.
For some mothers, adoption is an act of desperation, As historian Ricki Sollinger puts it, "adoption is rarely about mothers' choices; it is instead, about the abject choicelessness of some resourceless women." And there are some mothers--but not many--who simply did not care about their babies; these mothers are callous, not brave. Most likely, they did not get the dose of oxytocin, which urges them to love and protect their babies.
While desperation, fear, and perhaps callousness drive infant adoptions, the act of surrendering a child can appear to the outsider as a brave decision. Years ago my sister Helen, a social worker, told me how shocked she was that mothers signed relinquishment papers without showing emotion. "They just didn't care," she said. Before I gave up my daughter, I assumed she was right. I know now it was false bravado, the kind condemned men show when they walk to the scaffold rather than being dragged, the way men in orange jumpsuits kneel silently next to their executioners.
I've never heard a mother claim her decision was courageous. The industry describes adoption as courageous because it is a great marketing tool, not only does it make the young (and often powerless) mother feel better, but it implicitly characterizes keeping your baby as a hateful and cowardly act. Turning an act driven by fear or desperation into a courageous act helps adoptive parents overcome any guilt they may have in taking another mother's baby; it allows them to believe a selfless mother was acting in the best interests of her child. Adoptees too accept the bravery myth. We hear searching adoptees say "I just want to find my birth mother to thank her for her brave decision."
Let's stop the obfuscation and reserve courageous for those who are truly brave, Medal of Honor recipients, civil rights advocates, and the many unheralded mothers who, despite difficulties and parental objections, keep their children.--jane
Open adoption an option for Neillsville, Wisconsin birth mother; brings joy to Gallaher family
Language of Adoption
Rose is a Rose is a Rose
Natural and Real Language
Waiting to Forget: A Motherhood Lost and Found by
"As a newly reunited birthmother, this book was recommended to me by my birth son. I cannot say how many tears I shed as I read Margaret Moorman's story. It could easily have been my own. How many poignant memoirs like this will it take to bring us all out of the closet? Moorman's emotions run the gamut of a typical birthmother in that era. As it was described to me, adoption then was totally 'barbaric'. Proof of this is the now generation of adoptees searching for their roots. Wonderful book and definitely recommended reading for anyone in the 'adoption triad'.--Amazon
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