Who Benefits From Adoption?

Such a loaded question..and honestly I would never put this out on a forum because I know I would get assaulted – most people would respond the Adoption Professional of course. I don’t know if you trust me , but I promise you my benefit is emotional not financial. One of the moms we assisted in an adoption plan is staying with us this week and we got into this discussion last night. It so depends on the group of people you are talking to and their experience with adoption. It’s a discussion that could and does go on for hours.

So from MY experience, and I have seen it from every side except for personally placing, and personally being a child of adoption, (although I was raised by a step father) here goes:

Obviously the Family adopting benefits. Without the “miracle” of adoption they may never ever realize being a family. I know Dean and I wouldn’t have ever been able to be parents of the four children we have, we would have missed out on all the memories and moments that have molded us into who we are today. We wouldn’t do the work we do if we hadn’t experienced adoption.

The birth/first mom does benefit, and I am sure that if there are any anti adoption advocates reading this – they may agree other wise but I’m okay with that..you know why? Because I work with these women everyday. And yes there are some women if they had just run into the right person when they decided on adoption (and yes when they decided on adoption – because unless you are involved in a child welfare case and have the court terminate your rights, it is a personal decision. One you have to seek out someone to assist you with, one that is not easy to do because most people in your circle of life do not understand adoption and would rather you didn’t do this) they may have been provided a list of resources they didn’t know about and then may decide yes they could choose parenting. But the women we have worked with have all been able to say that even though its hard, even though they cry, even though they wish..they know they have made the right choice. And for those who feel that children are taken from the poor, I can’t deny that happens..but I also have provided services to 4th generation families that continue to support their families only on the resources they receive from the county and the communities…a cycle that never gets broken. Resources do exist you have to work to find them and honestly what is wrong with that? And lastly..I challenge any of you who feel adoption is wrong to work a year in Child Welfare. Because a woman can have a baby does not make her a good person, does not make her a capable person, does not make her sane, does not make her know how to love, does not make her a mother. We let families have chance after chance because we want to keep families together…we keep babies with their moms in treatment because it provides a better opportunity for the mom to stick to her recovery plan, we place children with relatives because of the family ties..relatives that have histories and are in the same circumstances as the parents, we leave kids in these situations for years hoping that the grown ups are going to change, do what we want them to do and when they don’t THEN we say okay its time to find this child a new family….do you know how many of these children we have in the US who will never have an opportunity to be adopted now? Sorry got a little lost on my thoughts. I’ve said this before….we have to stop – for those of us who call ourselves true Womens’ Advocates…allowing women to make choices without providing or linking shame to this choice is being an advocate, not telling them they have to be able to do this parent thing. When we start providing adoption as a choice for women instead of throwing service at them that they can never follow through on and then yanking their kids from them, when we start letting them help to choose a family in an open adoption, one that they can be part of…that’s when we can say we are TRUE advocates.

Okay – the child. I could spend the next year surfing the internet for information on this. Fortunately we do see a trend of more satisfied adults who were adopted in this generation then the last few. I believe Open Adoption is a reason for this. Obviously there are always going to be children /adults who are not happy that they were adopted. My question is always this, would they have been happy in a situation where they weren’t? I don’t know if anyone can answer this. I fully believe that most adopted children go through an identity crisis and they grieve for their biological families and many have attachment problems and the list goes on and on….I also know plenty of children who have stayed in biological homes and have a grocery list of problems as well. I know child who grew up in families with alcoholic or drug addicted parents who spend all of their insurance benefits on counseling or have been divorced themselves five times or turned out to be crappy parents because their parents were crappy. And I know lots of children who were adopted and yes are happy about it, not grateful, not fake happy because they feel they have to make their adoptive parents happy but happy themselves and successful in life.

Adoption is not always the right choice, we have women come to us who do decide to parent after talking with us, and we support that, we work with them and help them to make good choices. But for those that are asking for help, for those that continue to make bad choice after bad choice…we have to remove the stigma of adoption, we have to provide information about why it’s important to make a plan and be proud of that instead of letting the court make that choice or do a safe place drop at a hospital. Adoption can be a benefit to everyone..the family the birth/first mom and most importantly the child. But we have to work together to make that happen

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The Right Thing

So often when we are doing outreach to new organizations we hit the wall, because the mindset in the community is that parenting should be the only option, that adoption should not even be on the plate and that adoption should only occur when the court decides rights should be terminated. It is so frustrating to me, I’m trying to figure out – is it me trying to push my opinion onto someone else when I tell them adoption needs to be an option, or is it the other way around when organizations tell me they won’t even consider it – parenting is the only way? This past week, I did a concentrated effort on correction facilities and organizations that work with women while in jail. Organizations that claim to be advocates for these women.
I received one reply, and I have to admit I appreciated it and the honesty she provided. She stated that although she could understand the perplexity of what I discussed – which was that women deserve to have options – she could not support this as it went against everything she was working for.
This is where I have the hard time understanding….when you are advocating for a group of people- what should be the purpose? My thought is the best outcome. So then wouldn’t it be at the peoples best interest to then look ahead to the outcome? Yes parenting should be it, but what if you can’t or don’t want to? Not everyone has an innate ability to bond, to love to take care of another individual. So why as a society do we feel it necessary to force that upon someone? And then if it doesn’t work it’s OK to say oh well and then we make the decision again to take away what we decided in the beginning they should do. How many lives have been affected negatively now? Certainly not the life of the person who decided it was the only option they had. I know this may be a far reach but – we don’t arrange marriages here in the US – why? What stops us from deciding that someone should get married and we then get to decide who they marry and what that relationship should be like. Women get pregnant – its a biological process that happens when the sperm hits an egg and penetrates. Not every conception is a preconceived notion.

Okay I guess here is where my opinion comes on a little strong..EVERY child deserves a family. Family doesn’t mean a biological mother and father, it means someone who is going to love, nurture and care for this child forever, to guide them through life even when life gets tough. Not everyone who gets pregnant is capable of this no matter how much we won’t it to be, no matter how much we wish for this to be..so why does the child have to wait for this to be discovered by someone else, if the person who is carrying this child to life understands this from the beginning? Why do we force parenting on women, and shame them when they can’t? And the even harder part for me to understand, is it’s not the men who are placing the shame, it is other women.

This month I’ve had three women tell me how grateful they are for adoption, and how grateful they are for the families that are loving their babies. This is the reason I have to keep moving forward even when the door gets slammed in my face. These women deserve someone to advocate for them, for their children, for their decisions, and for their strength. Parenting is the hardest responsibility in the world. For those who know they can’t do it there needs to be an option and for the children who aren’t born yet – there needs to be a voice. Adoption has made many changes in the past 50 years. My hope is that it continues to evolve so that women don’t have to hear “why did you give your baby away” but instead – “WOW what an incredibly difficult choice that must have been for you – I admire your strength and love for your child”

So Grateful

We had a delivery on Monday. The Birth Mom labored for 24 hours. She handled labor and delivery like she’d done it a hundred times. It was her first. She pushed for an hour and a half and delivered a beautiful baby girl. Perfect – ten fingers, ten toes. Her mom was with her, a good friend of the family and me. I’m so grateful to be able to be a part of this part of life. Grandma held her, mom held her. This I am grateful for because they didn’t think they were going to be able to do this during adoption planning. The adoptive family came in about an hour or so after delivery, they had been traveling from another state to get here. The birth mom and the adoptive mom meet for the first time in the delivery room. For this I am grateful – the birth mom didn’t think she wanted to know who they were. The birth mom invited the adoptive mom to stay overnight with her and care and feed their daughter. For this I am grateful, birth mom didn’t think she even wanted to stay on the postpartum floor let alone room in. Yesterday birth mom and baby were discharged from the hospital, birth moms mom and brothers came to the hospital, met the adoptive parents, held their niece and grand daughter and took pictures. For this I am grateful, the birth family had initially wanted a closed adoption. Yesterday was a very emotional day, birth mom and her mom both feeling the pain of separating, both feeling the pain of knowing that they were making the right decision yet wondering whether they were making the right decision. I feel so very grateful that families allow us to be part of all of this, that I get to spend time with our expectant moms and their families before delivery, that I get to be part of the beginning of life, that I get to help another family hold the baby they have been hoping and waiting for. I feel so very grateful to be a part of these bitter sweet moments. The adoptive family will be back in December and the birth family will get together with them then..for this I am grateful, a new family has been made. There are more people to love this little girl then she knows right now….for this I am grateful.