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.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Letter from an Adoptress (Finally Updated!)

Now, before I start this entry, I'd like to say that I've heard from lots of adopters since I've been writing about adoption. I've heard from adopters who wished ill on my children and on me; I've heard from adopters who urged me to adopt a child; I've even heard from adopters who somewhat agreed with me. So, so, so, maybe all that kind of thing is why this letter has me so perplexed. The writer wishes not to be identified, which I completely respect. I'll call her M:

I enjoy reading your blog and was hoping you wouldn't mind my asking you a question.
According to the laws of our and another country, I am an adoptress of two
little girls. Now, I do NOT call myself a parent. I am NOT their mother and
they are not allowed to call me "Mama" or "Mom" or "Mommy" or anything like
that; I am Miss XXX and I am an adoptress. Likewise, my husband is NOT their
father. Our parents are NOT allowed to call themselves grandparents and the
girls are not allowed to call them as such. Our siblings are not allowed to
call themselves Aunt or Uncle. We are NOT their "forever family".
Their mother is dead; she died giving birth to them. We have continued
contact with their father and family, including siblings and uncles, in the
country in which they were born; THEY are their forever family. We visit 4
times a year for 2 weeks at a time and are making preparations to move to
that country so that they can grow up surrounded by their own culture and so
that they can know their family. I am not naive enough to believe that this
will, in any way, make up for having been removed from their country
originally and it will in no way be the same as if they were growing up as
natives, with their parents. I realized too late my mistake in wanting to
raise a child (the adoption had been finalized, but we hadn't yet traveled)
and will spend the rest of my life attempting to make up for it for these
little girls. I wish I could undo the past, but I can't. Before we left the
country with the babies, we met secretly with their father with our own
interpreter and asked him to please take the babies back, that we would pay
for all of the medical care that they needed and support his entire family
for the rest of their lives if he would only take them back and raise them
(it would have taken so little from us to make this possible, and we are not
wealthy by any means). Sadly, he considered them expendable; five children
were enough. If they had been boys, I'm sure it would have been a different
story. And if their mother had survived, I'm sure she would have gladly
brought them back to her bosom.
The problem we are having now is that these little girls, who are now 3 and
have been with us since they were 5 months old (they are twins), are
starting to ask why they can't call us "Mommy" and "Daddy". They don't
understand why nephews and nieces can call their grandparents "Grandma" and
"Grandma", but we won't let them do so. They know they have a Daddy, they
know they have brothers and sisters and uncles. We send letters and pictures
and drawings and there are photographs up all over the house. They know that
they were "adopted". They know other "adopted" children via cultural events
and ask why they call their adopters "Mommy" and "Daddy" but we won't allow
them to do the same. They even know a foster child who calls his guardian
Needless to say, we are not very popular in the "adoption" community, which
is okay with me, but the girls are starting to wonder why they can never go
to so-and-so's for a play date. Why some of the children are starting to
tell them that their "Mommy and Daddy" don't want them playing with them
because their adopters are "crazy". Even though we are only the adopters, we
do love them and it hurts us to see them struggle with this. Sometimes, I
want to cave and just say "it's just a name", but then I read yours, and
others', blogs, and realize that it is NOT just a name and I want to honor
that. I want to honor their mother. I want to honor their father. I bought
the privilege of raising them (when I was doing it, I didn't think about it
this way, as I had bought the story the agency gave us about why fees had to
be charged, but I know now that I DID buy them). I bought the privilege of
reading bedtime stories, kissing boo-boos, making cookies, doing their hair,
teaching them to read. I don't need to be called by a name that I will never
know (I've been in menopause since I was 13; I have premature ovarian
failure and, instead of going through puberty, I got to have hot flashes).
Don't get me wrong, if I COULD be a parent, I would love to be a parent. It
just will never happen, and I was okay with that before I even graduated
from high school. I did, however, want to raise children and thought that
this would be an okay way to do it. I do know that I was wrong, dreadfully,
horribly wrong, but I can't fix it. All I can do is try to do better for
these girls and work to make sure that other children do not suffer from the
naivete of adopters like myself, or even from the adopters who do realize
what they are doing and try to pretty it up.
We are also not very popular in our family, who don't seem to understand why
they are not allowed to take on names that don't belong to them. But, they
are adults and they can deal with it. My only concern is for these girls.
How can I help them around this issue? Do you have any ideas for "names" to
call adopters that would respect the girls' family while at the same time be
palatable to those, like yourself, who were taken/bought/stolen from their
parents? They are starting to just want to be like everyone else, and I'm
sure this will only become more difficult as they get older. What would have
helped you understand this at their age? Am I contributing to the problem
without seeing it? (I am only human and while I am trying, I make mistakes
and will make plenty more before my time on this earth is through.) These
girls didn't ask for this. In fact, they deserve so much better than this. I
know I made the mistake, but is there anything I can be doing to help them?
I would be very thankful for any thoughts you may have and I support your
work wholeheartedly. I believe that this system IS broken. It doesn't serve
the children, and it doesn't serve the mothers. It only serves the adoption
industry and adopters like myself. And I tell my girls that it was wrong,
that my husband and I were wrong (in an age-appropriate way, of course; the
older they get, the more blunt I will become about what it was that I and my
husband did). I was just so naive. I remember learning from the social
worker that their birth certificates would have OUR names on them, and I
actually thought I could just ask them not to change the names of their
parents, to leave them on there. It made no sense to me! I made color copies
of their birth certificates and then changed the copies to put their
parents' names back on there. I know that they aren't "legal" birth
certificates, but they are the truth.
I am so sorry that anyone has to go through that which you and so many
others have been.
> Sincerely yours,

Thinking Mama responds:
Gosh, if you're reeling from that letter, you're not alone. If M. could spread 1/100th of her understanding about the adoption industry to the rest of the adopters in her community, well, that would certainly be a start in stopping stranger adoption, wouldn't it?

M. seems to understand and believe what those of us who have been separated from our natural families by adoption have slowly and steadily been realizing. I admire the strength that M. seems to show; surviving menopause as a teenager and being able to rise from that extremely difficult situation shows great fortitude. Like many women, however, M. believed the lies of the adoption industry. It is hard not to believe those lies, just as it is hard to believe that the government might not have our best interest in mind when bailing us out and turning our banks into Fascist institutions. Anyone who reads through mainstream media's propaganda, whether it be about adoption or about the Federal Reserve, shows a certain amount of true open-mindedness that most people in our brainwashed society, unfortunately, never achieve.

It is important to remember, however, that neither M. nor I nor any of those of us who've woken up about adoption can force change on those who are still asleep. I can partially understand M.'s plight of having to be around adopters when her beliefs are so different; I can understand it from an adoptee's point of view but not from an adopter's. Her courage in this situation seems especially admirable.

Regarding nomenclature, which, after all, is the question that she asked, I can totally relate to the confusion that adoption causes. I experience this very confusion each time that I go to North Carolina, when I visit the very dear and wonderful friends that I grew up with and they are calling Beauford and Ann, the wonderful people who, like my natural mother and father, were fooled by the adoption agency into believing that I could be "as if" born to them. Needless to say, avoiding the very issues of which M. speaks, I grew up calling Beauford and Ann "dad" and "mom," even though we all knew that they are not my real parents. Having grown up with this particular nomenclature, and having not grown up with my natural mother and father, it often seems strange to call my real father "dad," even though that's exactly what he is. Perhaps there is something about language that is formed before the conscious mind is very developed that makes us cling to the people whom we call mom and dad, whether that nomenclature is indeed correct or not. M., very admirably, is trying to keep things honest with the children that she is obviously very much helping. Remember that she tried to give those children back to their real dad but that he, swooned either consciously or unconsciously, by the adoption industry, refused to take them. Raising those children seems indeed the right thing for M. to do at this point. They are very lucky to have someone so honest in their lives.

Having said that, I can understand that M.'s parents and parents-in-law fully desire to believe the lies of adoption, as most people do. If there is one thing I've learned since I found my real parents it is that the truth is often more difficult to live with than lies. One reason that I think I lost many of my adopted friends when I found my natural parents is that those friends find it much easier to live with lies: They are right. It is often unsettling to speak the truth, as Ron Paul has discovered throughout his campaign for President and his tenure as a Representative. People want the lies; perhaps this is the way that things have always been: Those who crucified Jesus wanted to believe lies over the truth. Perhaps we have a natural tendency to want to believe lies, a tendency that is difficult to overcome. But what about when those lies about your family, the people that you grow up with, the people whom you trust with your very life?

This is the conundrum with which the current adoption industry, a $1.5 billion business, has saddled us. My attempts to tell people the truth have been met with all sorts of dismay, as I have partly described previously. People would rather believe all kinds of things than see the truth. I think it's a part of human nature to want to take the easy way out. It is much easier to believe the pablum of mainstream media than to think for ourselves and do our own research. Perhaps those who do think for themselves have always been ostracized.

Nonetheless, let's get back to the question and to my answer. I have had to come up with my own solution to this problem and it is one that works for me. It is interesting that after I found my parents, I moved across the country, to a place where I'd only visited a couple of times. Here, I can be anyone I want to be. Where I grew up, I'm often known as "Beauford's daughter" by well-meaning and wonderful people. If I lived there all the time, I would have to come to terms with this all the time, as I did as a child. I am convinced that many adoptees accept the lies of adoption simply because they do not want to face the pain of the truth.

New Part:
Here's the tactic that I am taking. I am mentioning this not to suggest that it be M.'s path, but only to suggest that this is one option. Granted, I moved 3,000 miles away, to a place where I could totally reinvent myself with the truth this time. In other words, I don't have relatives out here and when I talk about my mom and dad, it's my real mom and dad. I don't have to pretend and I don't have to worry about people who might still believe the lies. This option of moving 3,000 miles away is not for everyone. :) When people talk about the adoption industry's version of my life, I will say that it's bothersome. Some people whom I really like do this and I'm not going to stop hanging around them just because they're used to calling Beauford my "dad." On the other hand, it really bothers me and I may hang out with these people less because of it. What will happen if I correct them? If they're older, and many of them are, I figure that it's hard for them and I don't press the issue. But I may, with my children, say something like, "X calls Beauford my dad; a lot of people do, and even though he did a wonderful job of raising me, he's not my real father," or something similar. Sometimes I let it go, but my children and husband know what the truth is. I feel comfortable with this and it may be something that M. may want to try: Letting it go and letting the people who are around those children call the children what they want. As long as the children know the truth, that's all that really matters.

That said, I proudly call people who aren't really my aunts "Aunt." There is one person who grew up with me and is like a sister to me; so my children call her Aunt, even though she is not. Aunt and Uncle are indeed used to indicate relationships with people who aren't blood relatives and as long as we know that's the case, everything is fine. I feel the same way about Grandma and Grandpa. My children know that there are two grandpas and two grandmas for every child; they know who there grandparents are. However, they call a few lucky women "Grandma," even though we all know that's not their real grandma. As terms of endearment, these things work fine. I call my husband, "Daddy," for instance, even though he is not my real dad, of course. :) For sanity's sake, M. might want to take this attitude with people, giving them what they understand but also knowing in her heart and knowing in the hearts of those children that she seems to be doing such a fine job of raising, what the truth really is. As long as she and the children follow this truth, I think that all will be well. What hurt me the most as a child was the pretending. M. is not pretending, although other people around her are, and the children will know and appreciate the truth because of M.'s devotion to it. M. might want to say something like, "X and Y know that you're not their real grandmother, but you are and will always be a special person to them and they want to call you something special." Perhaps you can both decide on a name that works, such as "nana." Another option is, of course, is for M. to distance herself from her family, which may or may not be an easy thing for her.

I hope that I've answered the questions sufficiently; if not, please let me know. I feel slightly awkward answering such questions being that I haven't fully worked out all the name stuff myself. I am still pondering changing my last name to my birth name, but part of me fears changing my identity, whom I've become. This adoption stuff is never easy and the birth certificate thing is horrendous (I try never to use my falsified birth certificate.) and families are often hurt for generations by it. M. seems like a wonderful woman and those children are lucky to have her in their life. I wish M. the best of luck with this dilemma and much good fortune in working out the details. As far as I'm concerned, M. is doing a wonderful thing for those of us separated by adoption, merely by listening to us. If anybody deserves a restful and happy sleep tonight, it's M.


tab said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and may be a wee bit out of line, but aren't we all adopted? I mean, God is our only "real" father. Those that were raised by birth parents are calling their "adoptive" parents by mom and dad, and the REAL father isn't miffed at all. In fact, He gave us parents- adoptive or birth parents to care for us while we are separated from Him.
I'd also like to note that it is no surprise that our government is making a mess of our country and our world. It has been going on since the beginning- people are power hungry and desire to be "like God". If that wasn't the case, Eve wouldn't have taken that first bite. But she did. And in doing so, the fall of man began. I guess what I am saying is that if we believe in any system, outside of Christ, we are bound to fall astray. The best we can do is live like we've been called and let no man come before our true King.

Truly Blessed! said...

I'm completely new to your blog and have yet to discover what it's really about, but read with interest "M"'s message in this most recent post.

My question for "M" if she ever makes it back to read your response is, "why don't you allow another family the privilege of raising these little girls who obviously desire to belong to a family -- names and all?"

M, you acknowledge that you "made a horrible mistake" -- but it's not too late to undo it. Please, for the sake of these little girls, call and talk with an adoption facilitator. These little girls deserve to have a family in every sense of the word. They can have TWO families...but they need to have that place of permanence that every child deserves, and it seems like they're not getting it with you.

I do not mean to be disrespectful, but I think you're doing a world of harm to your little girls.

Kelly (who is also an adoptive mom who delights in hearing my daughters call me "Mom". And yes, they know their stories, that I'm their second Mom and they're working through part of a new family who loves them very much).

Thinking Mama said...

It's interesting that "Truly Blessed"'s answer to M, an honest adoptress, is that M should seek to return to the same wolves that take children from families every day and recycle those children. Like many adopters, Truly Blessed is missing the point. Completely. My heart goes out to M and any other adopters who try hard to be honest about adoption. I'm sure that M has to put up with a lot of people who just don't get it.

Thinking Mama said...

One more thing: It's interesting also that Truly Blessed thinks that M's two adoptees should be taken from her and given to people who have the supposedly "correct" view of adoption, uprooting M's adoptees' even more than they've been uprooted thus far in life. Obviously, the adoption myths are much more important to Truly Blessed than truth is. Unfortunately, this attitude is far too common among adopters.

*Peach* said...

Astounding letter!

*Peach* said...

Astounding post!

Calzascortas said...

I am new to your blog and I have to admit that I am surprised at the ideology that it seems to present. Please do no take this as a confrontational question, but rather as an honest question from somebody that wished to understand you. I understand that you think that adoption is evil. What alternatives do you propose when children need to be taken out of their families in cases of abuse, addictions or other similar circumstances?

Thinking Mama said...

Thank you for asking, Calzascortas. There are many alternatives to stranger adoption, including placing children with extended family members. Regarding "abuse, addictions or other similar circumstances," these issues are only made worse by taking children away from their mom and dad. Breaking up a family will not solve any addiction issues and I really don't like it when social wreckers break up such families. It's one thing to take a child who is truly being abused (and the definition of "abuse" is very fluid) and place the child with a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or family friend until the parents get it together. However, if the parents never solve their problems, giving the child a "new family" will not solve any problems for the child.

A family can never be replaced. Saying something honest to the child, such as "Your parents do not have the skills to raise you right now. Even though I am not your parent, I am going to help out your family by helping you" works much better for the child than telling him or her that there are "new parents" around the corner. The terrible thing about adoption is the lies that it generates. True family can never be replaced; pretending that it can helps no one.

Calzascortas said...

Thank you for taking the time to reply. You say that there are many alternatives to stranger adoption, including placing children with extended family members. I don't know how it is in the US, but here in the UK that is looked at first. In principle the problem is that nurturing abilities are normally inherited (or not) from parents and therefore, it might not be possible to place these vulnerable children with their extended family. Also, often in cases of substance abuse, the extended family doesn't want to know. I uderstand that addictions can only get worse if the child is then taken away (mind you, it also works as a wake up call) but are the rights of the children not more important than the rights of the parents? I agree that if the parents never solve their problems, giving the child a "new family" will not solve all of the problems for the child, but it will solve neglect and abuse, which to me are important.

I also agree about openess and adoption "Your parents do not have the skills to raise you right now." I think is a great thing to tell them, but to deny a child of a family (even if it is a fake one) where she can feel secure and develop attachment and atunement, which in turn are necessary for a healthy functioning of self esteem and other basic brain fuctions. I think that your view would alienate the child, making her feel inadequate, not belonging and isolated. In fact, it is crucial in order to rebuild the bond of attachment that the child feels loved, wanted and that she fits in.
Can we not have one encompassing world like "mother". We can say that we "mother someone" and yet that doesn't make us biological mothers, but it makes us mothers. MAybe (and imo arguably) mothers of a different kind, but mothers at the end of the day. I agree that the lies some people create aroudn adoption are terrible. "True family can never be replaced; pretending that it can helps no one". I am sorry but I disagree with this. A biological family can never be replaced. In my opinion it takes more than blood to create "a true family", a loving environment, nurture, love, etc. How can you defend ALL biological families as TRUE families? Are they better families just because they had sex together and had the baby on their belly? Even when they had the baby and litres and litres of JD?

Paula said...

I have only one question,
i don`t know how adoptions are there, but in here, for consider a kid "adoptablle" he-she had to pass over 2 yrs intitucionalized since the last family contact and thats include extended family.
And kids at orphanage are not addoptable for been poor. NEVER. the law cansider give them in adoption cause they have been leave alone, without any care, in an institute, and nobody, no uncle, no grandma, nobody visit write or call, the institute or the judge, for more than 2 yrs.
Finally, you think is better grow in an institute that puts you at street at 16, completly alone and without any knowlege the behaivoire outside institute. Cause in there is normal and necesary for survive, stole food, take wath you want and be the best manipulator for get some respect from the others.