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What Being Pro-Adoption Means To Me.

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….

trinityheartbuttonThrough 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.

 

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7 Comments

  • Reply darylfaure

    I think you have summed it up so well Sharon. There is no neat little adoption package, and inevitably there will be great joy and great heartache by the very nature of the process. There will also be a lifetime of questions, but as you say, all you can do is support your child/ren on their own journey. You also hit the nail on the head about correct counselling and support, and ethical practices.

    January 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm
  • Reply sara1976

    Sharon, you know I have been following your blog for a very long time and have often looked at your website. However, since I have been in reunion with my daughter, I have struggled to find a support group/information/guidance (the social workers don’t tend to follow through with council after contact has been made). Its actually been a very overwhelming journey and at times, more traumatic than the initial adoption. I often feel alone with no one to share this experience with or anyone else going through it, would be lovely if you could find some information. There is loads of support for new birth mothers/adoptive parents but very little for what happens 18 years later when contact is made!

    January 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm
  • Reply Nisey

    Sharon, you have so eloquently expressed so many of my own concerns around adoption.

    I’ve mentioned before how I haven’t considered a 2nd adoption via the conventional route because of the reasons you’ve listed. I haven’t however been able to eloquently express why and this is it.

    NOT to say that adoption is not the right choice because in so many instances like you with Ava and Hannah it is beautiful and perfect… but so often it niggles at the back of ones mind.

    I absolutely LOVE the sentiment that adoption is NOT about finding children for infertile couples that for me is the very essence of where ALL adoptions should start. It should always be about everyone from the birth parent to the social worker and eventually the adoptive parents finding the best family for the child.

    Sadly that isn’t always the case. Love this post xxx

    January 17, 2014 at 2:32 pm
  • Reply Mash

    I love this post so much Sharon, honestly, it has helped me work through some of my own confusion around this. Ultimately – as with anything in life, when there is careful, well informed and considered consent, and intentions from both sides are pure, then the path is paved for a potentially healthy situation. Not free from pain or suffering. But something well intentioned. Sometimes through carelessness or probably just lack of resources, it can go wrong. As someone said, the social worker’s role is just a very short lived intervention, nothing more, and ultimately adoptive parents, birth parents and mostly adoptees have to work it out themselves. And as you say, fight for what they want (even though most of them are new to the situation and have no clue what should be happening). The key is consent.

    January 20, 2014 at 9:38 pm
  • Reply Tash

    I think everything you have mentioned is so relevant and everything I am considering as we attempt to walk the road to adoption. The infertility road has been hard and many people think that adoption is the last option when it is so not the case. I have been doing so much reading and research to prepare oirselves. Your article has definitely given me something else to ponder, the ethical side that needs to be considered. We dont always consider the hardships by the birth parents so thank you for the perspective.

    January 21, 2014 at 9:10 am
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