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.

17 comments:

  1. "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."

    This reads to me as if it comes from the standpoint:

    "There is no bond between mother and child. The mother just 'pops' out the baby while the adoptive parents do all the work."

    It's almost as if pregnancy suddenly becomes something to be brushed off as NOT "work." Or that it's suddenly not important and "anyone can do it."

    This also operates from the assumption that most mothers don't love their children - ie. They got "stuck" with the children they birthed.

    As if it is "such" a terrible thing to believe that a mother might in fact love her child. As if it is so terrible to be "stuck" with the child one conceived.

    Shouldn't we then be applying this same logic to kept children? After all, at least 50% of KEPT children were unplanned, no?

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  2. BRAVO! For me, I did have to go through a home study to even attempt to raise the child I gave birth to. Even then, after all of it, a simple and single adult decision to move to a new town, to a job that would allow me to take my child to work and a big nice house, lost me the one thing I did right in my young life. To me - homestudies are tools used by social workers/adoption people to escape the most valid fact - they are not even close to good enough to raise our children....

    My daughter got much of what your son got, and I think a bit more - since she was dumped into foster care to avoid having to deal with her.

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  3. In an ideal world, people who don't want to have kids (or aren't ready for them right now) wouldn't have unplanned pregnancies and those who are planning pregnancies would be able to get pregnant whenever they wanted.

    But I, like you, don't know why that turns into the connection that one should not have to go through a process in order to make sure they are able to care for OTHER people's kids. At one point in adoption, the only thing Adoptive Parents were screened for is weath--which does no justice to children whatsoever.

    As a feminist, it makes me sad to see one woman comparing herself to another woman, such as in the cliches you've brought attention to here, especially with stereotypes about class and gender in toe in the comments they make.

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  4. What a great post!Adopters don't seem to realise they're not just being assessed to be parents, but to be adoptive parents, entirely different with some common factors.

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  5. AMEN!! Sing it Sister!! I too get fed up with all the whining and complaining and feel exactly the same way. GREAT POST.

    Hugs,
    Myst xxx

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  6. PS Have linked it... hope you don't mind xxx

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  7. To be honest I think home studies should be far more rigorous. I have met so many adoptees that have been abused by their adoptive parents that I don't even know what they look for in home studies because it sure as hell isn't good parenting potential.

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  8. I agree with Jay, although I don't know how to screen for "potential abuser" or "closet addict" or any other seeds of toxicity in prospective parents. We were "home studied" several times, and although there were times I felt petulant and whiny (I admit it), the screening itself was ridiculously superficial. My husband and I were the ones answering questions about our readiness and fitness to parent. What do you THINK we would say?!

    And we had the requisite letters of reference from friends, employers, doctors, etc., but again, people ask for letters from people they know will give them a positive reference.

    I freely admit that I don't have the answers, but the screening process is insufficient.

    I have to say, too, that as an AP, I understand the "whining" in a way a non-AP probably never will. Yes, it sounds spoiled and greedy. But it doesn't feel that way when you're going through it. A large part of the problem is that most APs DO NOT have a clue about what adoption is like from the first parent or adoptee perspective. Should, but don't. That has to change.

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  9. Why are you suddenly punching adoptive parents so much? Aren't you supposed to be the one who respects them and wants to hear what they have to say? I guess not I guess that was all a lie to further your agenda. Yes I did have to go through the things you mentioned to adopt my son and I am not afraid to admit that its wrong that I have to be held under such scrutiny when there are other moms who nobody cares how they might treat their children and can walk out of the hospital without anyone asking anything about what kind of parent they will be. And your decision of the kind of parent you are is based on yourself and your opinion and your childs adoptives parents could feel that they were just as good of parents and who would doubt them except for you who comes up with anger and bitterness and excuses for why you must be better than them. Maybe you are just upset because you were unable to give your children the things they deserve and so now you need to beat up on adoptive parents for having what you don't to offer. I really can't imagine any adoptive parent putting any kind of true care into what you write or say because how could they when they are the ones who care and tend for the very children women like you couldn't take care of. April

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  10. @anonymous

    "when there are other moms who nobody cares how they might treat their children and can walk out of the hospital without anyone asking anything about what kind of parent they will be"

    A mother who gives birth to her OWN child can leave the hospital with HER infant because that is her right as a human being! It is none of your damn business and you have alot of gall to suggest that they should be "scrutinized" just like yourself. You are signing up to care for SOMEONE else's child. Yes you are going to be scruitinized. Who is to say that you or any other adoptive parent is going to be the perfect parent, just because you think you are so much better fit to raise someone elses child than they are just because you may have more "material" things. (Who gives a flip!!!)

    So, because you cannot become pregnant, we should all be punished and have to pass some home study to bring OUR OWN CHILDREN home from the hospital and raise them, just because you do? Get a grip, lady. I am afraid those of you who think you are owed someone else's flesh and blood are delusional and you scare the hell out of me, seriously. You are owed nothing, from noone. It is noone's problem that you cannot produce your own child. Get over it if you have to "be scruitinzed". It is not your child that you will be coveting, or already are. Nothing will ever change that.

    And what don't natural parents have that you don't offer (so self righteous and better than everyone else)???? What, a little more cash? Who cares!! An infant could care less how much money or material things you do or don't have. That would be called buying a child's love. A child needs and wants his mother, not THINGS. Get over yourself while your at it, okay.. and enjoy your pony and pool in your great big back yard that makes you so much more special and important than those pesky natural parents. LMAO!!!

    What they "deserve". Who the hell are you to decide what someone else's flesh and blood deserves?? You mean what YOU think you deserve.. which would be someone else's flesh and blood..but guess what.. you don't!!

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  11. @ anonymous

    "They are the ones who care and tend for the very children women like you couldn't take care of."

    WOMEN LIKE YOU??? NO lady, it is WOMEN like YOU who need to get way over yourselves because you are not the saints you think you are. You covet someone else's child like you are so much more worthy of that child than they are.

    Women like US are the ones who have suffered at the loss of our children to WOMEN LIKE YOU, who due to your insane delusions due to your own infertility, think that WOMEN LIKE US owe you our flesh and blood. I wish someone like you had the nerve to say something like that to my face. Women like me and so many like us aren't taking your delusional nonsense anymore, lady. These children are OURS. Not yours. I could have taken care of my child just fine, thank you very much.

    Sickening...

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  12. I can see this rapidly deteriorating into an us vs. them argument.

    "when there are other moms who nobody cares how they might treat their children and can walk out of the hospital without anyone asking anything about what kind of parent they will be"

    So I guess we should all assume that any woman who walks out of the hospital will be unfit to parent just because she hasn't passed a screening test?

    In which case, are we operating under the conclusion that there is no connection in pregnancy and at birth?

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  13. Wow 1st Anonymous, you need to quit your self defensive whining!!! Cassi is NOT punching up on anyone and as far as I am concerned, has given adopters FAR more respect than they really deserve. She is pointing out something very true and all you have done is prove her points with your whiny comment.

    Not all adopters are like you thankfully and I think you should learn from them.

    You have some nerve to complain about ANYTHING given you are EXPECTING other mothers to part with their children, THEIR children and NOT yours, just so you can have a child. I think that is vile and THEN you have the audactity to complain about it.

    You are the reason why unethical adoptions exist; you and all adopters like you. Your expectations and entitled view make my blood boil. Get over yourself. Sickening. You have been put through nothing in comparison to being pregnant (like for real with an actual baby growing inside you) and having that baby and then losing that baby. You do not deserve another woman's child. So GET OVER YOURSELF.

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  14. Reading and re-reading the recent comments I'm struck again by a piece of adoption that is COMPLETELY different for APs than it is for first/natural mothers. Myst said it exactly, "...you are EXPECTING other mothers to part with their children, THEIR children and NOT yours, just so you can have a child."

    You all have opened my eyes to your reality... I understand not that that's the reality for many natural mothers. And it could not be more different than what PAPs are taught. Could. not. be. more. different.

    Since my childhood, adoption was talked about as a wonderful, generous, blessed thing to do for an otherwise unwanted child. (Are you puking yet?) That lesson was and is all over the media in various forms - books, tv, movies, songs, and the mindset of my parents' generation. The poor abandoned waif; the rejected orphan; the ever-hungry child-too-many; the sad, ignored, abused, beaten, molested, unwanted, bi-racial "mistake" born to a young, poor, addicted, prostituting, girl who has no way to care for her baby. Or the rich, high-profile, pillar of the community, whose family (not to mention future Ivy League college) cannot bear her “disgrace.” (continues)

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  15. Either way, the pitch is that these children are not wanted, and if not for the loving concern of APs, they would either be aborted, languish in orphanages, or grow up amid a constant chorus of how burdensome they are or how terribly they tainted the family name.

    That's what I grew up learning about adoption, and my life has been pretty mainstream. Fast forward to infertile adulthood, and I had no reason to question the adoption industry line that natural mothers who make adoption plans. I had no reason to question it and neither did anyone suggest that I should. I didn’t have any idea that first mother forums and blogs existed… why would I? As far as I knew “they” were all too relieved and grateful for the blessing of adoption. (I know, I can’t even believe it myself!)

    If you’re asking how I didn’t understand the great loss and lifelong pain relinquishment would cause a mother – first as a woman and second as a woman who went to great lengths to conceive a child herself – I don’t know if I can ever explain it in a way that makes sense to you. My best effort is this: for many years (before I met my husband) I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mother. I loved kids, worked with kids, enjoyed cultivating the wonders of childhood… but I wasn’t sure I felt “it.” I didn’t know if I was maternal. I fully believed (and still do) that not everyone is cut out to parent, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Parenting is like nothing else in the world, and I don’t assume that everyone is called to do it. Add on the “mistake, unwanted, unable to care for” schtick, and it makes perfect sense that some mothers seek out adoption as an alternative to parenting.

    That thinking was compounded by my childrens' first mothers. For reasons of privacy I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say that they were, and still are, very clear about their reasons for choosing adoption. They freely chose adoption, which I understand is difficult (impossible, painful) for some of you to believe, and I would never ask you to. I’m just trying to illuminate the AP perspective in hopes of advancing our mutual understanding and compassion.

    I don’t believe that adoption is going away any time soon. Too many people make too much money off of it, and too many people use adoption to abuse and manipulate, and too many people co-opt adoption for religious and political agendas, and yes, some people – pregnant women, mothers, expectant fathers and fathers – do choose adoption for their own reasons. Adoption is not always a bad thing.

    I’m sad that there seems to be no end to the in-fighting and us vs. them arguing. As “right” and cathartic as it may be for any of us, it is also a distraction from making real change in the world of adoption. Do I think that we should all shut up and be polite and keep our feelings to ourselves? Hell no! But I hope that we can all approach the “other side” with the expectation of learning something useful.

    That’s what I try to do, and so many of you have taught me more than I ever imagined I had to learn. Thank you!

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  16. Anon (April?),

    I've gone back and forth with answering your comment. I never know if it does any good to answer anonymous comments because I'm never sure of the person behind the words and whether or not they are who they claim to be or someone just hopping on to create trouble.

    None of my posts ever set out to punch at adoptive parents. I write to challenge the accepted way of thinking in adoption. I write in the hopes that others will question what they are told (through the media and such, as Sally mentioned, and by the industry.)

    And, unfortunately, many of the stereotypes I am trying to change are the same as what you listed in your comment to me. The assumptions, such as me not being able to give my children the things they deserve and the beliefs that adoptive parents are the better parents because they "save" that poor child who would have nothing otherwise and lumping first moms together as, "women like you."

    Yes, when you do say something completely different than many adoptive parents (as well as scoiety in general) have heard, it does at times feel as if its an "us versus them" mentality. But I don't see it as first moms against adoptive moms. I see it as those of us who speak out and challenge others to question what they have been told against those who remain deeply set in their views that first moms and their children suffer no loss and that it's always a better life for a child to be adopted.

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  17. April,

    I'm an amom--twice. How is this post punching me?

    I appreciate what Cassie writes on this blog and I appreciate the comments other members of the adoption mosaic contribute.

    Both of my adoptions are international. I think we had a good social worker who focused quite a bit on what it means to parent children of a different race.

    The first process was Pre-Hague and the second was post-Hague. Do you know what that means? For our first adoption the homestudy (HS) required that we show we had no child abuse records in the state where we lived. Also the FBI clearance and all the other "proofs."

    Post Hague, we were required to obtain reports from every state in which we have lived since age 18 that we had not been convicted of abusing a child. Yes, it was a pain in the @ss-- but it is a good pain in the @ss and I am glad this requirement is now in place.

    As Sally mentioned, (I think), the HS process does not nor do I know how it could screen someone who might become an abuser-- but the process is now better to catch sick-os who are abusers and move from state to state to beat the system.

    Yes, some people who give birth to their children do abuse them-- but face it, adoption does provide an avenue for sick people to bring children into their homes for the wrong reasons.

    Not screening potential AP makes about as much sense as not screening people who care for children-- teachers, day care workers, sitters, church nursery personnel, etc.

    And, I do know of some situations in which a mother did have a history of physically harming her children who was screened by social services before being allowed to have contact with her children/baby. That does happen.

    Your post really did come across as defensive and entitled-- not just to the First Moms and Adoptees who read this blog-- but to this amom as well.

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