Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pick Your Family

Linda over at Real Daughter/Adopted Daughter has a post up, All My Birth Certificates, that I think really shows how uninformed, clueless, or just, sometimes, uncaring, some people can be when it comes to the truth of adoption and what adoptees face through their lives because of it.

On one of her previous posts, she received a comment from someone named Ellis, who without ANY clue to as to the truth behind such an action, threw out at her, in what I believe was nothing more than yet another cheap, weak attempt to discredit her, the suggestion . . .

---"If you feel so strongly about being adopted, then why you have your bparents adopt you back? Cut off all ties to your aparents and start "fresh" and make up for all that "lost time.”---

To me, as a mom who has adopted back her son she lost to adoption, such a comment is idiotic as well as disgusting, uncalled for, and degrading.

Think about it, when you say such a thing to an adoptee. Are you really suggesting that they could, or should, just drop kick one family to the curb for another? Do you still buy into the “empty slate” theory and apply it to them even when they are grown, capable adults? Suggesting they can just go to another famiy, AGAIN, and start all over, AGAIN, without any problems or struggles.

And do you really think, for those adoptees who have been adopted-back that it was just a knee-jerk decision, based on them shrugging their shoulders and saying this adoption thing sucks, I think I’ll just saunter on over to my other family and have them adopt me back?

This comment by Ellis, I believe, was more of an attempt to slap Linda in the face and try to shut her up more than anything else. But it still rubs me the wrong way when I see people throw such a thing out there without a clue as to what it really means. Especially when they do it to try and silence an adoptee from speaking their truth.

Deciding to be adopted back isn’t something I think would be easy for any adoptee to decide. It’s a hard, very personal decision. I try not to speak for my oldest son as much as possible, but I do know when he first considered being adopted back by me and his father, it was something he thought about and struggled with for some time before he ever even broached the subject with us. And when he did, there was still lots of long talks and discussions before anything was decided.

He didn’t just get an idea in his head, jump on it, and we all merrily walked off arm in arm to the courthouse to have it done.

And he sure as hell didn’t make such a huge decision because he simply doesn’t like adoption and wanted to “dump” his adoptive family for his other family so he could just start all over again.

But I know there have been people who have believed exactly that. I know there have been those who see it exactly as Ellis does, that he just simply wanted to switch from one family to the other and that was all of it. That it was just because he doesn’t love adoption and all that it is that he up and decided to make up for that “lost time” by tossing aside his adoptive family and caring only about his first family.

Except that wasn’t any of it. My son made his decision for him, for what he needed in his own personal way. It wasn’t about which family he did or didn’t want, especially since he still has both families in his life and in fact has healed some painful wounds with his adoptive family and is actually closer to them now, since being adopted back, then he was before.

So suggesting to any adoptee that if they are just so upset with this or that then they should just go get adopted back, is such an insult to my son and those who have been adopted back as well as to those adoptees who have no desire to be adopted back.

You’re attacking a very personal decision. You’re lowering an adoptees own intelligence and ability to make decisions for their life without anyone else’s control. Decisions they did not have a part of when they were first adopted but are now theirs to make, based on their feelings and no one else’s.

And you know, I always wonder when adults talk to other adults like their children, like Ellis did, simply because their adoptees, how much would their tune change if they were to come face to face with them. It almost gives me a giggle to imagine this “Ellis” coming face to face with my oldest son and suggesting he “dumped’ his adoptive family to be adopted back by his first family, all because he just didn’t like this darn, pesky adoption thing.

I would bet, that she or he (since there is no determination of what Ellis is) would change their tone if they had to actually stand in front of my twenty-three year old, six foot, two hundred and fifty pound son who I have to stand on my toes just to reach his shoulders and could lift me up and carry me anywhere he wanted to go.

And if not, and if she/he still insisted on telling my son what to do because he is somehow eternally a child because he was adopted, then she/he would only have themselves to blame for whatever happened.

Because my son, and only my son, knows what was in his heart and head when he made the difficult decision to be adopted back and anyone who would suggest otherwise to him would not get, I am sure, any kind of “nice” response in return.

They’d get exactly what they deserved, the same disrespect they gave. Just as Ellis gave her/his disrespect to Linda, my son, and every other adoptee out there.

(P.S. I just went back and read a comment from Ellis and she/he claims to be an adoptee who believes Linda, and “her kind” should really just be grateful for being adopted or move on and be adopted back. (Of course she also mentions how because us First Moms were so young, our children would have somehow ended up waiting for us in Foster Care to get our acts together.) So much more I could say there and so much change I could do in this post after learning that, but, after some thought, I have decided to leave this post as is and let it speak for itself.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cry Me A River

All right, so really, I do get so tired of the same old statement (whining) . . . 

How come we have to go through so much (home studies, background checks, etc) to adopt a baby when there are so many unfit, terrible, uncapable (enter whatever adjective you want) parents out there who don’t have to go through any of that to have a baby.”

To me, while agreeing with all the explanations of why it is adoptive parents are put through such steps before being allowed to adopt, there’s even more to it from my own experience and my oldest son’s experience.

Just as adoption does not promise a better life, home studies and background checks do not promise better parents than those, oh so unimportant ones that give birth to their children. And adoptive parents who gripe and moan about what they must go through to adopt another woman’s child really have no clue as to what First Mom’s, and regular, every day, not “home study-approved” parents go through every day of their lives.

The, “Oh why, oh why, must I be put through this when I am obviously so much better of a parent than that mom or dad who treats their child terribly and didn’t have to go through anything” cry, to me, brings about visions of a spoiled little child, stomping his foot while declaring, “It’s not fair. I am so much more entitled to a child than those unimportant people who actually give birth to them and yet I have to go through this when they don’t.”

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And cry me a river while you are at it.

Cause the plain and simple truth is, if you think those things are just so bad and not worth going through then you have NO clue what you are in for when it comes to raising a child. Because those kinds of things are just hiccups compared to the true determination and loyalty you give to your child. Those pesky little home studies and background checks are nothing compared to the constant ups and downs, ins and outs you will face as your child grows from the cute, innocent, infant and toddler stage into their preteen and teenage years.

I would walk through the fires of hell for my children if I had to. I would lie myself down on an alter of sacrifice and give myself and my very being for my sons or daughter. None of it would be too much to ask or too annoying to do. If it was for my child, I’d do it without question. I would be and would give everything for them, without question or complaint. I would have done that, even before their birth, before I held them in my arms, kissed their sweet, tender cheeks, and made them everything and anything that was my life.

Oh wait, isn’t that what I supposively did anyhow, before the birth of my first son. Didn’t I sacrifice everything I have, everything I am, for him? Didn’t I, in my belief that I wasn’t worthy enough or good enough, watch another woman, a stranger to my son, hold him in her arms while I walked out of the hospital with empty arms and a breaking heart?

But I guess that wasn’t as bad as all the “unfairness” adoptive parents have to go through to be approved to adopt another woman’s child.

All that “unfairness” that still does not promise them to be the better parent.

My son’s adoptive parents had to go through all of that too. The home study, the background checks, looking into their finances, talking to their friends and family. Yep, they went through all that pesky, irritating stuff to prove they would be good parents to my son . . .

And you know what he got . . .

He got a childhood of abuse and neglect. He got an adoptive father who had nothing to do with him by the age of five. A mother who put her addiction to alcohol (and drugs for a time) above her care for her son.

He got a discouragement, instead of an encouragement, of who he was. Of his self worth and ability. His importance to the family he was a part of.

He got abandoned with no food or money to support himself. He got dumped off at his grandparent’s house when his mother decided he was too much to handle. He got thrown into walls, beat with tree branches, locked out of his house, and the blame for all the bad that happened in his mother’s life.

That is what he got for all the annoying “checks” his adoptive parents had to go through before they were allowed to be the ones to carry him out of the hospital while I walked out with empty arms and a broken heart.

And yet, let’s see, my three younger children, who I never had to go through any kind of home study or background check with because I did the little, minor, unimportant thing of giving birth to them, have never faced any of those things.

Home to them has always been, and will always be, their comfort zone. The place they know they will never be denied and can go to whenever they need, for whatever reason. Never, not a day in my life, would I ever lock them out or deny them the right to be here, their place, their safety. Because it’s their’s. It’s where they should always feel most safe.

And they don’t know abuse, except for what they have learned of what their oldest brother has gone through. They have never been “dumped” off for some other family member to take care of them. Have always had the knowledge that both their father and mother are there for them, no matter what the situation.

And no, their father and I have never had to go through a home study to prove our worthiness but we have sure as hell done our absolute best to let them know we love them unconditionally and we would go through anything for them, not for us or our desire to be parents, but because of them, of who they are, of how very important they are to us, to our family.

But, twenty some years ago, we never would have passed any kind of home study. We were too young . . . too poor . . . too whatever you could possibly think of to make us “unfit” parents. But, yet, I can guarantee you, we would have gone through a federal inquiry, lie detector, blood transfusion, organ donation, or any other thing asked of us.

Not for ourselves or any desire to be a parent. But for our children. For our love for them that always has been and always will be worth whatever it takes . . .

With or without a home study.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tit For Tat

It’s always hard, isn’t it, to accept the loss of another, especially if it comes at your gain.

It’s hard to think about what pain another might be suffering, of the tears they shed while you’re smiling with joy.

But honestly, if you are going to walk into the world of adoption, that’s a reality that exists, whether you want it to or not. And playing the “tit for tat” game, trying to justify one loss over another, does not change this fact. And it never will.

In my last post, We Bleed Too, I DID ask Adoptive Mom’s what is going through their heads and hearts that they believe another mother would be “okay” in losing their child. I asked, because I was curious. Because I believe the Adoption Industry is untruthful to adoptive parents just as they are to adoptees and First Moms.

I asked because I truly wanted to know. And I was answered and I am thankful for those who answered me.

But I DID NOT, in any way shape or form, ask for justification of why one loss was more or less than another. Nor, did I, anywhere in my post, suggest that the loss of a child through adoption was any worse or better than the loss women feel who suffer through infertility.

I did not make it into a battle. I did not set out to say, “Hey, look at us First Moms, we suffer a loss so much more than anyone suffering with infertility could ever know.

What I did is, I believe, point out a very true fact . . . First Moms suffer from the loss of their children and yes, in a very real and true way, when one prays for a child to adopt, they are also, in return, praying for another woman to suffer such a loss.

Is it an ugly truth? Yes! Is it an intentional pain one intends to cause on another? In most cases, no, I don’t believe it is. But it is still the truth of adoption. That “other” truth that so many don’t want to think about or worry about.

And yet my post brought about the same old, “Sure that might hurt a First Mom BUT infertility hurts us in this way and that, and every other way that you couldn’t possibly imagine.

Which, in my mind, when pulled apart to see the meaning behind it, is one woman saying to another, “Oh yeah, I can acknowledge that it might hurt to lose your child but my loss with infertility is SO much worse than yours which means I am SO much more worthy of you suffering your loss so that I can be happy after all of the terrible suffering I have had to go through.”

It’s said, most simply, in these words . . .

--I do feel badly for first moms who have experienced the pain of losing a precious child. An adoptive mother often experiences that pain repeatedly (failed fertility attempts, miscarriages, placement of child who returns to bio family...) --

See that “tit for tat?” See the, “Yeah, you hurt, but our hurt is worse because we not only go through “this” but we go through “this much more” as well?”

Such a statement I could see if my post had, in any way, suggested that the loss a woman feels with infertility is less than the loss a woman feels through adoption. But I didn’t do that. I merely stated what I believe, without question, is true . . . losing a child to adoption is a loss for First Moms. Plain and simple! And I stated what I believe is fact, praying for a child to adopt is also praying for another woman to suffer such a loss.

I don’t believe, nor did I state, that this is a “direct” wish another woman has. I didn’t claim that women are out there praying to God that someone will suffer terribly so they can be happy.

But that doesn’t, and won’t change the fact that for an Adoptive Mom to gain through adoption, a First Mom must suffer. And there is that connection that while one woman is suffering a loss through infertility she is also, in the very act of adoption, leaving another woman to suffer her own terrible loss.

But some can’t accept that truth. Some simply don’t want to see it at all. While some might see it but brush it off as “not as bad” as what they have gone through.

But that doesn’t change a thing.

Just as comments such as this . . .

- - Just because someone feels pain as a result of something is not proof that it was wrong. I have often felt pain over experiences and have grown from them or later have gained understanding of why I went through it. - -

. . . do nothing to change the reality of loss either.

Because those kinds of comments, really, when I read them, make no sense to the kind of situation we are talking about. Adoption is, to start with, about a mother and child being separated from one another. It’s about the loss they suffer from such an act.

To say, “well we often go through hard choices that we later learn to grow from,” is, to me, a complete disregard to the emotional impact that adoption has on First Moms and their children. It’s a way to try and lessen what has really happened. To take it down to a “live and learn” level that we all can look back on and shrug our shoulders at.

And for the record, I’m twenty-three years into this adoption nightmare. I’ve lived a life of good and bad, of tough choices, of learning from life’s lessons. And yet, I have not “gained an understanding” for what happened to my son and I all those years ago. And I don't look back and say, “Oh yeah, that was why this happened and it all makes sense now and that terrible loss I have lived with all these years, really was worth it even if it was a “painful” decision.”

You can’t wipe away such a loss with such “logic.” You can’t take away their pain, the emotional battles they suffer with their entire life , with such a broad statement that suggests losing our children is as simple as a tough decision we make to learn and grow from.

Maybe it does make some feel better. Maybe it gives them a better feeling when they look at their own experiences. But that doesn’t, and never will, change the very real and true fact, that adoption begins with a terrible loss. That First Moms hurt and suffer without their children. And there is ABSOLUTELY nothing that justifies the pain of infertility as so much worse that it makes one woman worthy of gaining happiness at another woman’s loss.

It just isn’t so.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Grand Mystery

Life works in mysterious ways.

We hear that quote all the time.

And really, it’s probably a much deeper quote than this post really calls for. But I’m still sticking with it, just cause I like it and it works as my opening line.

After taking my holiday “blog” break, something I refuse to give up because, since my oldest son has been back in my life, I really need to enjoy that time without the ups and downs of adoption, I was all prepared to jump back in with a piece I’ve worked on for the last couple days in response to a comment left on my last entry, We Bleed Too.

But my writing was interrupted by my youngest son . . . who recently had his amazing wedding reception back in September . . . who, with his new wife, dared the slippery, snowy streets to come by and share his news . . .

My daughter-in-law is pregnant. I’m going to be a Grandma!

(And for those of you who know me on Facebook, please keep this news quiet there for the time being since my son wants to be the one to let the family know and since there is an onslaught of our family on Facebook, I have to keep mum about the news until he’s shared it or it will spread like a virus. Especially since I have a wonderful, over-protective uncle who goes into a frenzy and shoots off emails to every other family member anytime something remotely interesting is posted on Facebook.)

But . . . back to the whole life and mysterious ways . . .

The post I was working on, and completely discarded after learning the news, made me think of how very much my son and his new wife could be seen, by others in different circles, as new “prey” for the adoption industry.

To them, they would have all the strikes against them.

They’re still young and just barely married. They live in a modest home they are renting. My son works part time and is in college. His wife has just enrolled for her first semester of college that is set to start next week.

They don’t have a lot of money. They don’t have successful careers or the means to provide the very best of material goods for their expectant child. At this point in their lives, they can’t offer the fancy vacations or designer clothes for their little one. No fancy gates around their house. No high-class SUV to get them around.

They are, in the eyes of the adoption world, unfit and undeserving of the new life they have created.

But in my eyes, I see it all so much different.

I see a wonderful couple who will be amazing parents, not by the size of their checking accounts, or status of their careers, or style of their house, but by who they are as people. By the love they have for each other and the love their family has for them.

See, my boy, is going to be a great father. I know that, without doubt. I don’t care if my grandchild has little baby shoes with the Nike emblem on the side. It won’t bother me if he/she won’t be able to celebrate their First Birthday at Disney World or be given the most high-tech baby products being pawned all over television.

Yes, my son and daughter-in-law will have to juggle work and school and raising a baby. But I did it. My son’s father (my husband) did it. Their grandparents did it. We did it and we made it work. Just like I know they will make it work.

And my husband and I, as the proud grandparents, will be there to help and support them. My son’s siblings, his two older brothers and younger sister, will be there too. Just as a family should be. One unit, working together, because we love each other and will never give up on any single member of our family.

And nobody . . . absolutely nobody . . . will take this baby from our family.

I’ve never been known for a violent temper, but let just one person even suggest that my son or daughter-in-law aren’t good enough for their own child, that they are selfish for keeping their baby, that there are so many couples out there would could offer a better life, and there will be more violence in my temper than anyone has ever seen.

Let just one person pull what this person pulled, Predators and Prey and hand my daughter-in-law a card because she’s young and pregnant and they are desperately hoping to adopt. Let just one nurse or doctor even attempt to suggest they know “a couple” and there will be an anger unlike any I have ever known.

Because I’m going to be a Grandma and I’m going to cherish and love my grandchild with everything I have. And I don’t care that society views my son and daughter-in-law as too young, poor, or unsuccessful to be good parents. I don’t care if the adoption industry rhetoric has convinced the majority that my son and his wife are somehow “less loving” because they are going to keep and raise their child.

I care about that tiny life that will bless our lives in eight short months. I care about my son and my daughter-in-law. And I care about my family. Intact and whole and never again a victim to the terrible loss adoption causes so many.

And for the record, though I will keep dying my hair to keep away the gray and curse the wrinkles that multiply every morning when I look in the mirror, being a Grandmother is one of the greatest blessings I have ever known and I am going to be the best darn “Granny” I can possibly be.

And I’m going to love every minute of it!