Thursday, April 25, 2013

Open Is A Myth

Overall, I’m not a huge fan of open adoption.

I firmly believe the accepted practice, that is the norm in today’s world, is just as damaging and painful as closed adoption.

From the very start, the promise of open adoption is used to convince vulnerable, pregnant mothers to give up their babies.  It came into existence, not because the Adoption Industry suddenly grew a heart and started to care about what was TRULY best for mothers and their unborn children.  But because adoptions were drastically dropping after the Baby Scoop Era.  Because the demand for newborns was outnumbering the number of available babies.  And the Industry learned, promising frightened, vulnerable mothers that they could still be a part of their child’s life increased the chances they would give their sons and daughters up for adoption.

And then you have pre-birth matching which is sold as an integral part of open adoption.  You have what is one of the worst, cruelest forms of coercion used against pregnant mothers.  One that is so accepted as “okay” that even those who are currently in the process of seeking a baby to adopt, list it as a “positive” for open adoption because of the terrible coercion it brings about . . .

---“When the mother can see first hand, how important the adoption is to the family, it is more difficult for her to back out and disappoint them.” – Adoptions Don’t Have To Be A Secret ---

---“As the process moves along, birthmothers begin to see their babies as belonging to the adoptive parents and not to them.” – Birthmother, Good Mother ---

From there, you have the open adoption agreements which are more of a barter between two people for another human being, than anything else . . .

I promise to send pictures four times a year, videos for every major holiday and visits twice a year.  In exchange, you promise to give me your baby directly after giving birth.

And yet, sadly, barters – signed sales agreements between two parties – have more legal backing, in many states, than any open adoption agreement.  And even in those states where open adoption agreements are supposively recognized by law, what point does it really serve?  What rational ability does a First Mother truly have to hire a lawyer, pay for a lengthy court battle and hope she might win something in what will become a battle of proving what is in the best interest of the child.  Not in what was promised in order for the Adoptive Parents to convince the mother to give up her child in the first place.

And none of it, not even with the wording the court systems like to use, has anything – on the surface – to do with the Adoptees.  It is, as so often happens in adoption, Adoptive Parent-centered.  It’s about what they must do, what they must agree too if they have any hope of a mother giving her baby to them.  It’s all about how they sacrifice and give of themselves to keep their promises.  How they are good for sticking to the original agreement they made with their child’s First Family.

And for those First Moms, it’s about being grateful that the Adoptive Parents are actually following their agreement.  About behaving as expected so there is no risk of them breaking their promises and closing the adoption.

But the worst of it is it’s sold to vulnerable mothers, and hopeful Adoptive couples, as the miracle “cure” so that their children will never suffer the loss and pain of being given up for adoption.

Though it was almost three decades ago when open adoptions became more and more a part of the adoption vocabulary, it is presented as the “new thing” that makes everything about adoption better, brighter, with the promise that today’s Adoptees will do so much better than Adoptees of the past.

And that, in itself, is terribly damaging.  To buy in to the belief that some pictures, a couple visits, is all it takes to make sure our children are happy with being given up for adoption, is one of the worst things we could ever do to them.

Years ago, Adoptive Parents were told to treat their children like a blank slate and they would be spared the pain of adoption.  Today, they are told, open adoption is so much better.  A few pictures, a visit or two a year, and their children will never know the pain of the Adoptees of the past.

It’s no more true now than it was then.  Both myths are terribly damaging to children. 

But today’s myth of open adoption being the newest and greatest thing is hugely embraced and accepted as the cure-all for adoption loss.  It works so well for Adoptive Parents.  They can do what is expected of them and stick to the agreements they made and be reassured, at the same time, that by doing so, they are sparing their children any and all pain that might come from being taken away from their family at birth.

And the damage continues.  Because children are expected to be happy, more than accepting of those pictures that cure all their issues with identity since they can see where they got their rounded chin from.  Their green eyes.  Their frizzy hair.

They’re expected to be “healed” from any sense of loss when they are allowed a visit with their First Family.  Regardless if they must also be forced to watch their First Parents go on with their lives, without them in it.  So often walking away from the child they gave up for adoption only to return to the children they kept and raised.

Open adoption is painful.  Open adoption is hard.

And though I am not a fan of it because of the damage it causes, I do believe that our children deserve for us parents to take the time to do it right.  To make it Adoptee-centered.  To swallow our pride, our ego, and make open adoption what it should truly be about – an ever-growing, changing relationship with all sides of a child’s family.

And there are those Adoptive Parents that do just that.  Who truly understand that adoption is about loss and pain, there is nothing that can be done to change that.  But our children can be put first.  Be given the relationship they deserve between both sets of parents that has nothing to do with what is best for the parents but what is, instead, best for the child they all love.

I think of Daria. And Rebecca.  And Lori . . .

Lori . . . The author of The Open-Hearted Way To Open Adoption.

A book not just from her, but from her daughter’s First Mother as well.

A book that isn’t about how great she is to allow a connection between her children and their First Families.  Or about how grateful her children’s First Parents are to them for keeping their promises.

A book that is, instead, about putting the Adoptee first in every aspect, every part, of an open adoption relationship.  One that doesn’t stick to the accepted norm of what the majority of Adoptive Parents do to keep their promises of open adoption.  But instead encourages the reader to go beyond their egos, their uncertainties, their misguided beliefs, and concentrate instead on what is truly best for their child.

She acknowledges the pain that also comes with such relationships.  Doesn’t try to cover up the loss that exists, or sugar-coat the emotions her children face as they try to find their way to balancing having Adoptive and First Parents as a part of their life.

She faces and addresses the reality of what open adoption is and encourages her readers to step outside of their comfort zone and truly do whatever they can to do what is best for their children.  To accept that open adoption is beyond a static agreement.  A two-dimensional pact made between adults without knowledge of the future.

It is, instead, a way of life.  A reality to be lived that is ever changing because our children’s lives, and their relationships with their families, are ever changing.

There is no magical cure out there that will miraculously save a child from feeling the pain of being given up by one family to be adopted by another.  Adoption does, and always will, begin with loss.  There is no amount of pictures or visits that can ever change that.

To encourage pregnant mothers to give up their babies because of some mythical belief that open adoption makes everything better, just creates more pain and loss.  More unnecessary damage that nobody deserves.

If we truly want to protect children then we must first concentrate on helping and preserving their family, whenever possible, so they will never have to know the reality of adoption loss.  And, if there is no other way, and adoption must happen, then the openness must be real.  It must be significant and it must be centered around the Adoptee and only the Adoptee.

Anything less is just another myth that will continue on the same painful path of the past, creating even more damage along the way.

19 comments:

  1. I've read Lori's book, and I'm participating in her book tour. I have to say it was difficult for me to read for many reasons. There are always going to be adoptions, and in my opinion, her book is a primer that should be consulted frequently if you are connected to adoption. I would also suggest it to anyone considering adoption. If you don't find her way of open adoption something you could do, then you shouldn't be doing it.

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  2. Welcome back Cassi.

    I personally feel if the best interests and welfare of children are ever going to be placed back in the centre then adoption will be done away with as it is solely an adult centric institution which does not take into account the various needs of children and their families, and replaced by something much, much better. The rigidity of the legal side of adoption and what it means for a person to be adopted is simply not compatible with the best interests and welfare of children.

    There will always be a need for children to reside with persons unrelated to them... however in order to realise these things you mention above and raise children with their best interests as the main focus, we need a new system in place that does not include fear, instability, insecurity, threats, lies, broken promises, falsified legal documents and the list goes on.

    Open adoption, regardless of how it is done, is not a guarantee that the child will grow up hapy with their situation and unscarred. I have seen this first hand in a child I used to babysit - she is now in her early 20's and it has been a difficult road... and yet looking at how her adoptive parents handled it, you would think it was the perfect open adoption system as they put their daughter at the centre of everything they did and she grew up knowing her first mother. No secrets, no broken promises and still, great pain persisted. Adoption is always a crap shoot - there will never be a guarantee no matter how hard the various parties involved work at it. At the end of the day, adoption is tampering with nature. There is nothing that can prevent the consequences of that.

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    1. Myst,

      I can understand completely. Even while writing this post I found myself nervous of crossing over that line where some might use it as justification to encourage more mothers to give up their babies as long as the openness is handled in a better way.

      I firmly believe the best way to protect children from ever knowing the loss of adoption is, like I said, to help and support their families so there is no reason for them to be separated from them.

      I don't believe, in any way, openness should ever be a reason to encourage more adoptions or even support more adoptions. You are 100% right, there is no guarantee a child will grow up happy or unscathed from adoption, no matter what any of us do.

      But I do believe, for those adoptions that have already taken place and for those situations when a child is truly in need of a family, we have got to do better than this idea that tossing them a few pictures and allowing a visit here and there with the First Family is all that is needed.

      We have got to stop demanding that children be forced to give up their identities, their heritage, their rights in order for them to be taken into a family and loved and supported. If there is no other choice than for a child to suffer the loss of their family, what right does anyone have to compound that loss by forcing them to cut off who they are and where they come from just so they can meet the desires of the adoptive parents?

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  3. There is nothing about the father in this whole adoption process. Just sad, there are fathers who love their children and do not have a say or even know until it is too late.

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    1. David,

      I agree with you 100% and if you are a father who has wrongly lost your child to adoption, I am so sorry!

      It is wrong that the adoption industry does everything it can to deny fathers their rights to their own children. A father's rights to his children are equal to a mother's and nobody has a right to take those rights from them or demand they must somehow prove themselves worth of those rights.

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  4. I think you are a hypocrite. You whine about how unfair adoption is to adoptees yet you promote a blog that interviews a gay adoptive parent? How many times have first mothers complained about amended birth certificates, yet you think it is fine for gays to make them even worse? Do you really think any adoptee wants one that says two women or two men conceived and bore them? Get real lady. Gay adoption is even worse than surrogacy. After a year of reading blogs about adoption on the internet, it is pretty obvious that most of you are just a bunch of whiny left wing Democratic carpet lickers that don't care about kids at all. Especially adoptees. Adoption is horrible enough as it is but gay adoption is the worst thing that has ever happened to any adoptee and it is going to mess up adoptees up like no other. It is also just another way for adoptees to be used, this time as political tools. Can ya feel the love?!

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    1. Just shut up, imbecile. You post is so idiotic I can't even come up with a response to it. I'd be willing you'd know all about being a hypocrite, of the American Taliban Republitard variety.

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    2. Anon,

      Since this post has absolutely nothing to do with gay adoption and I have no idea which blog or particular post you are even referring to in your comment, there is absolutely nothing I can say in response to what you have written.

      If you believe I'm a hypocrite, that's your opinion. And if you truly believe that I don't care about Adoptees or Adoptee Rights, than you don't know a damn thing about me!

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  5. Oh why does someone (usually anonymous) feel the need to derail any attempt at having a conversation?

    Cassi - your blog going private worried me - even though I seldom comment - I read everything, and it makes me think, and I appreciate that more than you will ever know.

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    1. Thank you!!

      The private setting was just a temporary need that was quickly taken care of. Thank goodness!

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  6. Loss is loss. For a mother who can't raise her child and the child who can't know their mother. We definitely have to fix adoption - it's archaic.

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  7. Adopted Children Reject Gay Adoption as “Marriage” Legislation Advances in Argentina
    Yeah, I'm a real Republitard-why is it alright for adoptees to say that the straight couples that adopt them are "fake" and that closed adoption is oppression which is true, but if an adoptee does NOT want to live with a gay couple and call them dad and dad or mom and mom then the adoptee now has a problem? By your reasoning adoptees should have the freedom to say how much they hate adoption but they should not have the freedom to say they would hate gay adoption. There are millions of adoptees that hate gay adoption so stuff it.

    by LifeSiteNews.com
    Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:15 EST
    By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

    BUENOS AIRES, June 9, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - As homosexual "marriage" legislation is being debated in the Argentinean senate, a group of adopted children is speaking out against adoption by gay couples, according to ACI Prensa.

    Speaking on Radio Cultura, a station in Buenos Aires, the teens said that children should have the same opportunity as they have had to grow up with a father and a mother.

    "No to homosexual adoption. We children want to grow up in a family that consists of a mother who is a woman and a father who is a man, which is the natural way, not with a homosexual couple," the teens told the show's interviewer on Sunday.

    "We are happy with our mothers and fathers and we want all children to have the opportunity to have them."

    Argentina’s gay “marriage” legislation legislation has already passed the Chamber of Deputies, the lower legislative house, and is now in committee in the senate.

    Argentinean law currently follows the dictionary definition of matrimony, permitting only a man and a woman to marry each other. However, homosexual activists are pressuring the government on the issue by obtaining permission to "marry" through local judges, whose interpretations of the law and constitution have been repeatedly rejected by the national courts.

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    1. I am confused and have no clue what I'm missing here. This site and article and the very topic of gay adoption has NOTHING to do with anything I have ever written on this blog, much less this post.

      Nor have I EVER said that adoptees must feel a certain way about anything in adoption, much less expecting them to act and feel differently if they were adopted by a gay couple compared to straight couple.

      I have no clue where you are getting any of this from and I see no reason to continue this argument since it has nothing to do with me, my blog, or this post.

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  8. As a Mom to 3: one bio. child, one child adopted at age 4 from Foster Care and one child adopted as an older infant, overseas, I can say firsthand that while not a panacea or cure-all, having direct access to your First Family is beneficial and has helped to erase some of the hurt I have witnessed in our child via Foster Care. The road has not always been easy, nor should it be, but he can call, write, visit with his family, access medical history and glean a sense of his family history. It has never occured to me that I should feel smug for keeping our end of the "agreement"; it just feels right.

    Our sweetpea adopted overseas has none of that and the hurts go deeper. Yes, it could be unique to this child and clearly these are only our experiences alone but having even a photo would be so precious to her. Having said that, of all 3 of our children, she is the most optimistic and resilient of the bunch! Sometimes I wonder if she hasn't had to be, faced with no direct knowledge of her First Family; it could simply be her nature too. :)

    We are searching for her overseas family at her behest and have made some progress. We are cautiously hopeful a thread might be found.

    For her, even a broken connection, even one faded photograph or even one "truthful" documented nugget from the circumstances surrounding her first few days/foundling spot, would be unspeakably valuable; and because of that, priceless for us too.

    Just offering another perspective.

    Thank you.

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  9. Wow, a man ranting about something which has nothing to do with the topic. Everything you said was spot on Cassi!

    Anyway, I have come to send some news a little off topic.

    http://news.yahoo.com/mother-uk-forced-14-old-pregnant-131603990.html;_ylt=ApKINQHpyUY43ZHbhX7LJ1bQtDMD

    An adoptive mother forced her 14-yr-old adopted daughter to get pregnant, using donor sperm. She has 3 adopted children, counting the 14-yr-old. But she was prevented from adopting a 4th child, so she came up with this plan. This adoptive mother, just so happens to be an American woman, living in the U.K.

    I have been reading the comments on of this article from other websites. They say things like "Not all adoptive parents are like this, this woman is only an exception. It's natural parents who are more often abusive." Rather than trying to figure out how to fix a broken system, all society can say is "this woman is an exception." *rolls eyes*

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  10. This piece of article is really interesting..Thanks for providing such informative post.

    adoption help

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    1. You should be ashamed of yourself, "Emma Watson". You link to an unashamed adoption seller.

      All I can say, is that a gravida attracted to the benefits of open adoption should find foster parents for her baby.

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