The Murky Waters Of Adoption Labels.

I want to blog about adoption today, about the conflict that is adoption, the differing opinions and some of the negative sentiment that I’ve come across during my journey through motherhood as an adoptive mother. The intention of this blog post is not to offend or hurt anyone in the adoption triad, but more about me, trying to find my way through the minefield of  political correctness amidst the conflicting views and opinions of adoption.

After Ava’s placement, I started reading and researching as much as I could about adoption and about raising my child. Some of the opinions I’ve read have been hurtful. Adoption opinions are full of labels, some of them really horrible labels.  Labels that call adult adoptee’s “the angry adoptee” or “unhappy adoptee’s” and opinions and labels that paint adoptive parents and more specifically adoptive mothers as cold hearted women who only cared about their own infertility. That is a very bitter pill for me to swallow.

Yes, I am infertile, I can’t carry a child to term, I cannot have a biological child, so yes, perhaps when we started out on our adoption journey, that was my number 1 motivator, my infertility. But from the moment I laid eyes on Ava, I loved her. I loved her in a way that can never be described in words. I love her fully and completely and in a way that took my breath away, I loved her in ways I’d never experienced love before. I love her so much I know that I would lay down my life for her, I would stand in front of speeding train to save her.  The truth is, we can never be prepared for the depth, breadth and strength of motherly love. We know it will be great, we know it will be all consuming but nothing can prepare us for the fierceness of that emotion.

The more I fell in love with Ava, the more determined I became to love and protect her at all costs for the rest of my life. For me, this includes being totally open and honest with her about her adoption, it means writing down and memorizing everything about the day she was born, about the day before she was born and the time we spent with her birth mother and all the information she gave us. It has meant the the start of a tentative friendship and a step towards more openness with her birth mother in the last couple of weeks. And yes, this openness is as much about me as it is about her.  The tentative steps that Irma and I have taken in the last couple of weeks are not just for me, or for her, but for Ava. How special that Ava has two mothers who love her deeply and who love each other.

But I digress…

Back to the label of angry or unhappy adoptee’s. God knows I hope that that label is NEVER used to describe Ava one day. I don’t want her to be unhappy or angry about the hand she was dealt. I don’t want her to be angry with her birth mother for placing her or with Walter and I for adopting her. I know that these circumstances make adoptee’s emotionally vulnerable but I have to believe that if we continue with our open dialogue, that we allow her the freedom to feel what she needs to feel and to express herself openly with us that we can help her work through her thoughts and feelings about her placement.

A lot of adult adoptee’s who are labelled as angry, are angry because they weren’t given a choice in their placement. So now I’m going to be very controversial here but no child/baby is given a choice, that is the sole responsibility of the parents. As children, none of us were given choices about parental decisions and we are all a product of our upbringing and not just adoptee’s. We all struggle with issues and things that we perceive as being done to us, but I have to trust and believe that both Ava’s birth mother and Walter and I are acting in Ava’s best interests as a minor. Will she agree with the choices the 3 of us have made? Maybe? Maybe not. But that’s just parenting.

Of course, I get that what makes adoption so complex is that it’s a situation where one individual will have a sense of loss over something that will be celebrated by many. We’ve been faced with this ourselves and it’s complicated. I’ve always believed that while Ava is my miracle child, we are not Ava’s miracle and I do set people straight when they comment on how lucky she is to have us, because they are wrong, we are the lucky ones, we are blessed beyond our wildest imaginings to share in her life.

I’m rambling here…. but sometimes I feel so confused by the negative sentiment that seems to go hand in hand with adoption. When I read some of the blogs and opinions about adoption, I can’t help feeling that many birth parents and adoptee’s feel that the only ones who gained anything from adoption are the adoptive parents. And perhaps we are.

Adoption is very complex and sometimes it’s hard to get my head around all the opinions and political correctness. As the end of the day, for me, adoption has been about redefining many of the stereotypes I once believed. What is a family? Family is more than blood. Redefining how we see family to be inclusive of our adoption triad, where there is more than one mommy and while very different, each of us has a role to play.

One thing is for sure, I don’t regret going down this path, not for one second, I’m on the most amazing and beautiful journey of my life, even if it does confuse me at times and I will, oh God, I will adopt again in a heartbeat if we’re given the opportunity.

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  • Reply Denise

    In my heart I believe that all souls choose their parents. I don’t think there is any ‘luck’ in adoption placements anymore than there is in conceiving a child naturally/assisted etc.

    Each one of our souls was destined to be together.

    My (adopted) son. Looks nothing like me or my husband with our dark hair, olive skin and brown eyes. Uncannily though his blonde hair, blue eyes and fair skin match my mother and brother exactly.

    He was born the day before my brothers birthday, and has EXACTLY the same temprement as my brother… I could just as easily have given birth to this child who takes after his uncle to a T. That isn’t serendipity in my mind, its meant to be. As challenging as my son is, I’ve seen it all before with my brother and my mom is able to support us and give much needed advice on how to handle his outbursts.

    His soul may have taken 15 months to find us but he did, much like your BM saw hundreds of profiles that just didn’t work and then you had your meeting with SW – coincidence? I think not…

    Quite frankly I don’t think any of us ‘choose’ adoption our children choose us.

    February 12, 2013 at 10:13 am
    • Reply Sharon

      I agree Denise, I really do. But once, a long time ago, I blogged that exact sentiment and had a shit storm open on my head. How dare I say such a thing because many interpreted is as me saying that Ava’s BM was then placed on this earth to be my baby maker and how cruel of me to think such a thing. Which is obviously NOT what I meant at all. I don’t understand the reason’s behind it, I just know that Ava was always meant to be with us.

      February 12, 2013 at 10:35 am
  • Reply Beth

    What is family? I come from a very strange family set up. My parents divorced when I was 3. My dad adopted me when I was a teen. He is very much my father in every single way other than genetics. I grew up witha bio sister, a foster brother and foster sister. I am close to my bio sister and brother, but not my youngest sister (I think the age gap, 10 years, is too big).

    I am now married and have twin boys who I am in no way genetically related to even though I carried them in my body. We are now discussing having another child and I feel fully content and happy with my boys and feel absolutely no need to reproduce my own genetics for genetics sake.

    Why is so much emphasis placed on genetics, biology and “blood”? In my experience it has NOTHING to do with family.

    Family is love, family are the people who support you in good times and bad, family is caring, family is having someone who knows you, family is a safe space to learn and grow.

    Ava is so lucky in that she as two moms. She has two ladies in this world who love her more than anything. And she has a daddy who thinks she is the moon and the stars. All of that is pretty fecking special.

    I’m so glad that you and Irma are tentatively getting in contact with each other. I know how my bond has deepened with my boys’ donor and how grateful I am that he helped us make our family. It is awesome having someone who i can gush about how amazing it is that M knows where his belly button is, and that person really, really cares. We were always close, but now it is like there is a golden tread that connects our hearts. Our situation is different but I understand how it feels to have another person linked to you and your child/ren through selflessness.

    Family is love, and Ava will always know how very loved she is.

    Wow what a long comment.

    PS Irma is so beautiful!

    February 12, 2013 at 10:18 am
  • Reply jenny

    It was so interesting for me on Saturday, my MIL was asking about Ava – as you know she fell in love with her – but I said she was adopted as you had suffered many miscarriages. I mentioned it because for me it forms part of your narrative. People ask how we know each other – we met online through infertility and I was around before and post-Ava (online and now happily in real life) so I feel it’s interesting and worth mentioning and a story that has taught me many, many things as you know. But Jonty then said, maybe you shouldn’t be so open with her story and I felt so ashamed. Firstly, was I treating it as a trainwreck and being all gossipy? That was not my intention at all! And secondly, why did he naturally think you would keep her adoption status from her? He is not online and doesn’t read your blog so doesn’t know how open you are about it all. I found it sad that that was his first response. It was an interesting moment for me and gave me a glimpse of what you must go through most of the time. To me I think you have taught me so much Sharon about adoption, infertility, maternal love and the gift a child gives you by being in your life whether by biology or not. And that’s why I like to tell your story because it is profoundly moving for me.

    February 12, 2013 at 10:18 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Jenny, you know, I’m not ashamed of my/our story at all. I’m damned proud to have survived the 7 years of hell that we went through. It challenged me on every level and I’m grateful to have come out the other side wiser, tougher and still relatively sane. I don’t care who knows, I’ll shout it from the roof tops. I’m proud of my beautiful daughter and I am proud of her amazing birth mother, it is an honour for me to be apart of their lives and I don’t care who knows…. so feel free to share.
      And thank you for your kind words!

      February 12, 2013 at 10:33 am
      • Reply jenny

        That’s what I know but only because I know you and your blog. I found it interesting that that was Jonty’s first response because I think that is still many people’s first response: don’t talk about it, it’s a secret. I find that kind of thinking utterly bizarre now. xxx

        February 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm
  • Reply Jeannine

    Our birth Mom’s Mom told my husband and I that she truly and honestly felt (she is a women of God, very beautiful and kind woman), that her daughter had carried this special child especially for us. Our birth Mom had 6 portfolios to choose from – she said that ours truly spoke to her – when we met, they said they just knew this child was supposed to be ours. People can argue with that as much as they want – we all know that children come to their parents in different ways – life is not always easy, and yes adoption is a time for celebrating for us adoptive parents, but we are (and I think, most adoptive parents agree) that is is also a time of heartache for the birth Mom and her family. However in todays world, adoption is not as closed as it used to be, and I fully expect one day to have this massive extended family for my daughter – her birth family and her adoptive family – how blessed is she in that way.
    I know that not all adoptions are as simple as this, however people should walk a mile in your shoes before making any comments and getting riled up by things that you say. People are often so ignorant, just best to ignore the negative comments.

    I love reading about Ava and your stories – you are blessed to be in one another’s life – you were meant to be together.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:26 am
  • Reply Shelly

    Sharon your life and story is an inspiration to many. Family is so much more than just a home you are born into or the womb you were born from! You, Walter and Ava are proof of this! Adoption itself is a miracle, a knitting together of hearts done through choice!
    I am so excited to read that you have made further contact with Ava’s birth mom and pray that this relationship will continue to be a huge blessing to your family and to hers. She truely is beautiful!

    February 12, 2013 at 9:37 pm
  • Reply CalT

    I am also very open about my boys’ adoptions. There is nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of just because it is “unconventional” to others. Families are put together in all sorts of different ways, and we should be celebrating these differences. Adoption definitely comes with complications and a lot of negative and weird perceptions (which I believe is mainly due to ignorance and lack of education about adoption) but DH and I are trying as best we can to raise our boys with all the love we have, a sense of undeniable belonging and the confidence they will need to face all they may be up against as adoptees.

    I think it is absolutely fantastic that Ava’s BM can be involved in your lives! I so wish we could have a relationship with our boys’ BMs, but maybe all in due time.

    February 13, 2013 at 9:06 am
  • Reply Mandy

    Not quite sure, Sharon, how you are going to take my response …. I am an an adoptee and and an adoptive mother of twins.. I have met both my birth parents (I consider myself lucky in that regard) and we we were a nominated adoption with our twins, so were very involved. I don’t think that you can call this, as adoptive parents – I certainly won’t … it will hurt, shatter and destroy me – as it did my parents …. I never left, I just wanted to know where I came from and I will never, ever want any parents other than the ones that I have … my twins might feel differently – be that as it may, but there is no love, like our love and if they can grow up and older with that – it is all that I want xx

    February 14, 2013 at 11:06 pm
  • Reply Mandy

    You, Walter and Ava DESERVE another person in your lives and it will happen – I truly believe it

    February 14, 2013 at 11:19 pm
  • Reply Julia

    “I’ve always believed that while Ava is my miracle child, we are not Ava’s miracle and I do set people straight when they comment on how lucky she is to have us, because they are wrong, we are the lucky ones, we are blessed beyond our wildest imaginings to share in her life.” – I LOVE this.
    I agree with Mandy. You and Walter and Ava deserve another person in your lives. x

    February 19, 2013 at 5:11 am
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