Something curious happened that I didn’t expect. I sent out an official e-mail news announcement about celebrating National Adoption Awareness month for a wonderful adoption advocacy group I belong to, and I received a fairly nasty response from a first mother who bluntly stated, “There is nothing to celebrate about Adoption!”
As an adoptee, I have six words in response to that e-mail. “I hate adoption: I love adoption!” How can one individual state both sentiments irrevocably?
Sometimes I do hate adoption. I hate that adult adopted citizens are denied access to their own birth and adoption records. I hate that the legal system in this country refuses to acknowledge that adopted ‘children’ grow up and become adults who deserve the same rights to access their personal records that other Americans have. I hate child trafficking, and adoption is a kinder way to explain how U.S. citizens are still buying and selling human beings under the benevolent guise that creating families through adoption is an honorable solution to grow families. Tell me, please, in which civilized country, that an infant is legally bound to a contract that he or she did not sign, did not agree to, and cannot renegotiate upon reaching the age of majority? Certainly ‘not’ the great country of America! The land of the free (in which adoptees are not), and the home of the brave (which adoptees must be in order to remain sane).
I hate that there are different price categories for adoptees of color. Is it fair that older children in the foster care system are by far ‘cheaper’ to adopt than newborn ‘Caucasian’ infants who are often involved in a bidding war between hopeful prospective adoptive couples? No it’s not, but those are the facts.
But most of all, what I hate about adoption is that it never ends for an adoptee. It’s not something that you grow out of, there is no miraculous drug to make it all better, and you are, forever, adopted. We will live and die adopted. I came by my adoption complex legitimately whether I was born legitimate or not.
What I love about November as Adoption Awareness Month is that we, as adult adoptees, are given 30 days in which we can ‘educate’ the public’ to our feelings, out thoughts on adoption, or dreams for freedom, not of the loving families that raised us, but freedom to discover ourselves. No matter how many ways you look at it, an adoptee is either cursed or blessed with two sets of parents. Those who gave them life and those who gave them a home. We cannot love ourselves until we know who and where we came from. We cannot love ourselves until we are free to love all four of our founding family members.
Adoption ‘can’ be a good thing. It really is a way to build a family, or to provide a family to children who truly need a loving and stable home. Adoptive families are often more stable financially and emotionally that fractured biological parents caught in a never ending battle to provide for their children. However, a very wise young woman who spent years fostering children in the hope that one would be adoptable recently told me this. No matter what I did, or how motherly I was, or how caring or loving I was, when the day was over and they were ready for bed, they ‘still’ cried for their mommy. I was standing right there thinking what’s wrong with me, I can be your mommy, and then I realized that I could love them, and we could raise them, but they would never forget their ‘real’ mommy and would always grieve for something I couldn’t give them. She and her husband decided against adoption. They are now blessed with a daughter of their own.
I love adoption at times, but I hate the politics of adoption. I personally had a little battle once with the great state of California who refused to admit that I was adopted even though I was in reunion and had been for years. Six years, and one contrived (and humorously hysterical) valley girl fit later, they discovered my adoption records in a non-traditional court and cheerfully sent me a notice registered mail that I was, indeed, adopted. I uttered a classic response, but since it’s X-rated I’ll skip a detailed version.
What I love about adoption is family. Mine. I love all four of my parents, and my children and husband who have patiently put up with a crazed wife and mother, in search of the answers to who she is. I love my 8 ½ siblings who have spent years trying to figure me out. I love that there is an adoption community with enough courage and passion to take on the world and change adoption from within. Every time I meet an adoptee who is in Social Services, or reunites families, or goes into family law, or politics and who are brave enough to speak for their brothers and sisters in adoption, it makes me proud that I am a part of such a dedicated group of activists.
We will not be free of the binding bands of adoption until there are enough of us within the system, the courts, and the government to make a lasting difference on the policies that must be changed so that we can be free. Study hard, little brothers and sisters in adoption. Choose the right path to light the way for reform.
So yes, let’s celebrate November as Adoption Awareness Month: The times, they are changing.