Aspie with Attitude

Sure, I'm just another Southern Recovering Alcoholic NPR- and Sweet-Tea Addicted Comic Mom with Asperger's in the SFV, but I can tell you now that I don't necessarily fit the stereotype.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Helping the Non-Adopted to Get It

One thing I discovered when I found my mom and dad, and when I began to delve into the $1.4 billion U.S. adoption industry, was that some of the most bitter comments came from other adoptees and mothers who'd lost a child to adoption. Having said that, there are some moms who understand that they were victims of this industry and there are some adoptees who also understand. I've even heard from some adopters and potential adopters who, instead of berating me, began to see adoption in a different light than they previously had. By far, the most open-minded are those who have not been through the adoption mill and had their natural family broken up by adoption. My friend Elizabeth is one of these people and I so appreciate her truly open mind regarding adoption. She sent me this article; if you're at all interested in adoption, I suggest that you view it. Here's what I wrote the author of the article (my comments were abbreviated on the site itself):

Dear Roberta,

I'd suggest that one way is to stop calling natural parents by the derogatory term "birth parent." I have one mom and dad and always have. It's too bad that the state of Virginia told my Wilmington, N.C.-born-and-bred natural mother that "it's as if you never had a baby" when she asked for the copy of my true birth certificate, the one that she signed. I can only legally receive my falsified copy, although I know who my real mom and dad are. It might also help if the $1.4 billion U.S. adoption industry would stop marketing adoption as a way to cure all problems, whether of adopters or of parents who may not yet feel ready to be parents but who are,
nonetheless, going to be. I'd enjoy it, for instance, if the general public realized that over 40 potential adopters were waiting for each adoptable child. The adoption industry has marketed itself so well that most people are sure that the supply of children is much higher than the demand for them, even though the opposite is true. It would be nice if the natural family were not booted out of their child's life when the adopters see fit to take over, as so often happens. And of course, it would be nice if the government saw fit not to falsify our birth certificates in the first place.

The problem, Roberta, is one that so many adoptees proliferate: that of saying how wonderful adoption is. I have a wonderful life and had a pretty good childhood. The people who adopted me were pleasant and well-meaning. But that doesn't negate the horrid pain of separation that I experienced as an infant, when social workers took me away from my mother. My pain, and the pain of many adoptees, is never shown on the happy adoption stories that mainstream media present. In fact, I have experienced, especially in the past few years, a real campaign by mainstream media to shut me and other honest adoptees up, to silence the horrid realities of adoption.

Until people stop thinking that separating a mother and child via adoption is a wonderful thing, people will continue to accept things such as falsifying birth certificates. I suggest that your efforts to "reform" the adoption industry be focused on stopping mother and child separation in the first place. Then, the birth certificate issue would take care of itself.

Tricia Shore,
Reunited Adoptee and Natural Mother
Los Angeles, California

Roberta, like so many adoptees, seeks not to end the pain of adoption, but to make it somehow seem better by seeming to make adoptees have a bit more say in the process. It didn't surprise me one bit that she, like many people who are affected by adoption but refuse to think that adoption is anything but wonderful, called me "bitter." She also, if I'm reading her letter correctly, fails to note that my childhood was pretty happy, despite being separated from my natural family. The fact that I had a happy childhood, however, did not diminish my desire to find my parents. Nonetheless, I think that Roberta proves exactly what I was talking about in my letter to her regarding adoptees: Unfortunately, she and many adoptees have chosen to believe the adoption industry's rhetoric and she seems to refuse to examine any other side of things.

Again, I'm sorry for any pain that I caused by copying and pasting and publicizing any e-mail or links to anybody's Web site. We had just returned, within hours, from a trip across the country and I was in a hurry.

Note: I am happy to say that this blog entry seems to have received a lot of views and I've gotten some nice comments from people, including an adoptee who gets it. I absolutely love it when people begin to understand what's going on! And that's what it's all about, isn't it? I also checked out Roberta's Web site and it seems to be filled with those who want to believe the adoption is wonderful fantasy. Roberta did ask that I remove her e-mail from my blog, which I am happy to do. Although people have done a lot of quoting from me, I always try to oblige when people want me to remove something that I've written about them from my blog. I'm guessing that my blog has sent her some traffic, but then again, I'm guessing that she doesn't want that publicity either. So, if you want to find her Web site, you'll have to do it from the link that's posted earlier in this blog entry; to my knowledge, posting a link to someone's article is not a sin of any sort. As always, I mean no harm to anyone with my writing.

To answer my friend Elizabeth: Yes, the government falsifies birth certificates and seals the original ones. Occasionally, a state government will throw adoptees a small bone and give limited access to the original, truthful, unamended birth certificate. Funny how when the non-adoption affected understand what's going on, they also see how horrible adoption, in its present form, really is.


ESM said...

T: It was WAY too complicated to leave this on the N&O site and I don't have time to mess with the login stuff. However, couldn't resist my two cents . . .

I’m neither an adoptor nor an adoptee, but I am a mother of 3. I don’t get it, but I am not sure whether the part you (the article writer) want me to get is what I’m missing.

(I won’t pretend I can understand the complexities of being adopted or having given birth to a child who was then adopted – so I won’t try).

From where I stand, though, here is what I don’t get: if I take the issue of the good or evil of adoption out of the equation, I still cannot fathom how can it be right, just, or meet for the government to give people who adopt a child a fake document that states they parented a child.

If we must have such documentation, why isn’t there a different document – a certificate of adoption? – that states the “necessary” information regarding the child and those who adopted him or her? What message does this “let’s just pretend you never had this baby in the first place” send regarding the value of motherhood for all mothers?

Off my soapbox now. . .


Thinking Mama said...

E: I'm so glad that you wrote! You've just begun to understand one of the most important ironies of adoption: It's not about saving children; if it were, your very sane idea would have been accepted long ago. In fact, a few years ago, I read something about a genealogical researcher who had suggested that adoptees have a special mark indicating adoption on their untrue birth certificates. Needless to say, that small bit of truth hasn't happened. And it probably won't.

And yes, it's a huge devaluation of motherhood. Huge.

Molly said...

I realize you have very strong feelings on this issue, and I'm neither adopted nor an adopter, but I do work in Early Intervention (sometimes). The vast majority of families in our program are trying their absolute best to be good parents; some are already awesome, and some of them need a fair amount of help, but they're getting there.

But when I get a referral from a foster caregiver who tells me that the twins' mother hasn't shown up for a single scheduled visit in the past six months, or from a nurse who tells me the reason for the referral is that the three-week-old baby who was in her parents' sole custody has multiple, non-accidental fractures, or that the mother used drugs throughout her pregnancy, or that there's suspected sexual abuse (and EI only goes through age 3)...well, I just don't think some people are cut out to be parents, and I don't have a problem with their children being removed from their custody and placed in the care of people who can love and nurture them into fully developed human beings. Ideally, these would be extended family members, but that's not always possible or safe for the child. I know one woman whose (white, middle-class) mother was arrested for dealing drugs; her father couldn't care for the kids while that was going on, so they were sent off to relatives, where both kids were molested by their uncle at the ages of 3 and 7. Blood relatives aren't invariably the best choice.

Thinking Mama said...

Thank you for writing, Molly! I appreciate your comments. There are many societal factors, created mainly in the past one hundred or so years by people who stand to profit from splitting up families or from having a society of bad parents. Your well-meaning distinction between good and bad parents, for one thing, lumps all drug use together, when the actual drug itself makes much difference. So to say, for instance, that the mom uses drugs or has been arrested for drug use means little. In our society, a relatively benign drug such as marijuana can land a mom in jail, while a much more dangerous drug, such as Prozac, garners praise for the mostly suburban moms who use it.

Granted, though, there are circumstances in which children may not be able to live with their natural parents, not because the parents "shouldn't be parents." It's not your job to judge parenthood; you do seem to take it upon yourself to judge good or bad parenthood. If parents are bad parents, i.e., truly neglectful or abusive (vague terms in and of themselves), then they are bad parents. That behavior doesn't mean that they are not parents. Therefore, if children are somehow removed from their parents, the children should know that, good or bad, these are their only parents. Anyone who raises the children is a parental substitute, which may indeed be helpful in certain situations. But to judge who should be parents and who should not be, which, unfortunately, many middle-class women love to do, is mean-spirited. Parents simply are. It is a great blessing to be able to be a parents. But parents that you, or society, deems bad does not make them non-parents, as adoption does; it merely makes them parents who aren't taking care of their children.

Why lie about whom the true parents are?

Thinking Mama said...

Sorry for the typo in the previous post. I was in a hurry. :)
The post should say, "It is a great blessing to be a parent."
Even former English teachers make mistakes. :)

Molly said...


I didn't intend to lump all drug use together, although it certainly appears that I did. Of course, there's a huge difference between a mother's, say, smoking tobacco through her pregnancy and a mother's smoking crack every other day through her pregnancy. I had the latter in mind; entirely too many babies are born addicted to illegal drugs.

And I would make a distinction between "bad parenting" and "bad people". I'm not saying the examples I brought up meant that the people involved were bad people, or even that they don't love their children; but I do think their parenting skills are severely lacking and if they're not willing to get help with those skills, then they're going to end up with children who are likely to perpetuate a cycle of abuse and neglect, unless someone intervenes.

There's no judgment inherent in saying someone needs to learn how to be a better parent, I don't think. Or rather, there can judgment of their parenting without there being judgment of their worth as a human being.

A lot of adoptions in this area (and I haven't looked to see where you are) strongly encourage the child's biological family to stay involved to whatever extent is possible. Again, though, this is not invariably in the best interest of the child.

And then we could get into the situations where the parents kick their teenagers out of the house for any number of reasons; should those children not have the right to be adopted by another family? Completely different circumstances that what you were talking about, of course, but it would still be adoption.

If I may ask, it almost looked like you're casting doubt as to whether parental abuse and neglect even exist; was I misreading that sentence?

I do appreciate your thoughtful response; this is a very good dialogue. Thank you!