My life has, irrevocably and undeniably, been changed and blessed by adoption. And I consider myself an adoption activist. I am passionate about supporting those walking the adoption journey, whether they be adoptive parents, those considering adoption and yes, to a certain degree, birth parents too, that is why I set up Trinity Heart. It is my passion, my gift and my honour to walk the adoption journey with others.
So, what I am about to share my shock or surprise you….
Through the work I do with Trinity Heart, I have come into contact and had regular dealings with those considering adoption, those who have adopted, those who would like to place babies/children for adoption and social workers working in the adoption arena. My eyes have been opened to tragic and difficult circumstances people find themselves in. To vulnerable babies and children and terrified and desperate birth mothers and heart breaking stories of infertility and hopelessness from potential adoptive parents. My heart has been broken by stories shared with me.
But, my eyes have also been opened to the realities of adoption. The reality, not just of people like me, but the reality of birth mom’s and adoptee’s. And what I have learned has left me conflicted and confused by my stand point in the adoption triad. My rose tinted glasses have been removed. When I think about adoption, I no longer see rainbows and unicorns. I see loss. I see love. I see devastation. I see heart break. I see beautiful families, much like my own, created and other families left torn apart. It is naive to assume that adoption is only family creation, it is also family destruction in the relinquishment of a child, whether by choice or otherwise and that destruction has got to be acknowledged for the sake of our adopted children.
I have learned that it is unrealistic to assume that all adoptions are ethical. I have learned that it is naive to assume that there is never an ounce of coercion involved in the relinquishment of a baby or child. I have learned the importance of researching the effects of adoption on adoptee’s and on birth parents. I have learned that sometimes birth fathers rights are ignored. I have learned that as adopters, we need to educate ourselves about the needs of our children, we need to be aware, we need to know that they won’t all grow up untouched or undamaged by their adoption, no amount of love can change that. We need to acknowledge our children’s feelings and create and open and loving environment where they are free to express their feelings, whether it be anger and hurt or questions about their birth families, without fear of rejection, without fear of hurting us, their adoptive parents.
And it has been a bitter pill for me to swallow. I had always believed that adoption is love. And I do still believe that adoption is love. But adoption is also loss, whether the baby/child is relinquished willingly or with coercion, there is a life time implication for the birth mother/parents. Adoption affects not just the people in the adoption triad, but their extended families too.
So am I still pro-adoption? Undoubtedly yes! But I would encourage all adoptive parents to research and question everything before entering into an adoption triad. Be prepared to deal with the ambiguities of adoption, be prepared to ask the difficult questions of your social worker to ensure you are getting an ethical adoption. Adoptions are about acting in the best interests of an innocent child. Adoption should be about supporting and counselling birth parents to make the right choice their family. Adoption should NOT be about finding babies for infertile couples.
Research your social workers, use reputable social workers that come with references and be prepared for any and all outcomes. Be prepared to walk this journey with your children, regardless of what their experience of adoption is, be prepared to support them on their quest to find themselves amidst the adoption cliché’s, myths and stigma’s.
Adoption is full of ambiguities, be prepared to acknowledge that.
So where do I stand? Again, this is full of ambiguities but here goes:
I am pro ethical adoption
I am pro maintaining a family unit
I am against providing babies for infertile couples but for the choice of an un-coerced birth mother to place her child for adoption.
Because of the social workers we used for our adoptions and because of the time I have spent with Ava’s birth mother and the circumstances surrounding Hannah’s adoption, I am confident we got an ethical adoption and I feel comfortable with my circumstance and with how we are preparing our children to live in the world as adoptee’s.
But I still struggle sometimes with the ambiguity of it all. But I do know that I stand for and support the rights of adoptee’s. I do know I support and stand for the rights of adoptive parents and potential adoptive parents. I do know that I stand for and support the rights of birth parents. I do know that I will continue with my adoption activism but I will do so while considering the rights of ALL corners of the adoption triad.