A friend from the adoption fraternity sent me the following article recently: Healing Adoption Trauma
Now let me start off by saying that I agree with the gist of the article. I do believe that adopted children are emotionally vulnerable, I do believe that adopted children struggle with a sense of loss, I do believe that these things need to be acknowledged and dealt with as best we can as adoptive parents. We need to take cognisance of this and we need to be alert and aware of the signs that our adopted children may be struggling with issues of abandonment, loss and grief.
What I don’t agree with is the generalizations that this article makes and so many like it. I know I’ve blogged about this before and I probably will a thousand times again in the future, but I want people to know that they should not buy into all the stereotypes that are out there about adoption.
So here are just a few that I’ve encountered in my 3 year journey through parenting an adopted child.
Not all birth mom’s are teenagers having a crisis pregnancy, in fact the opposite is true, the bulk of my friends who are parenting from adoption have older birth mom’s, only one out of my 10+ friends who have adopted have a child from a teenage birth mom.
Not all adopted children are unwanted or abandoned. Not all adopted children suffered with the fear of abortion in utero. Adopted children are more often than not, loved deeply by their birth parents, hence the decision to place them for adoption.
Adoption is more often than not, a decision based on love. Love for the unborn child, not self love. It’s a decision where the birth parents accept the responsibility of living with loss for the rest of their lives in an attempt to ensure that their child gets a life different to the one they can offer.
Adoption is not abandonment. Adoption is not a shirking of parental responsibilities. In fact I’d go so far as to say, it’s the ultimate act of parental responsibility, making the heart wrenching decision that your child, your own flesh and blood, would be better off being raised by someone else.
Nothing makes me see red more than when I’m asked why Ava’s birth mother never wanted her. I saw her pain, I held her in my arms when she sobbed the day of the relinquishment. I saw her raw pain. But I also saw the great love she had for Ava. I saw her selfless determination to give her child something other than what she had to offer. I know that her decision to place Ava was a decision based on love. Pure love. There was nothing irresponsible or selfish about it.
Of course, the opposite is also true of adoption, many babies and children are abandoned or unwanted. Adoption is a complex issue, it is not a question of right or wrong, black or white, happiness or sadness, fulfilment or grief, adoption is a combination of all of the above.
We all need to learn not to believe the stereotypes and generalizations we’re fed about adoption, the issue is always far more complex than that.