There has be A LOT of chat on twitter recently about adoption. About people’s motivations to adopt, about reasons children are adopted, about parenting adopted children. There has been many voices, opinions and view points put across. Sometimes it’s got pretty heated, sometimes it’s got pretty nasty. I have watched and listened, absorbed and learnt from what’s been going on. I tend not to actively engage, but have at times attempted to stand up for myself and others where I have felt strongly. I am usually shot straight back down. I really believe that most of what is said truly comes from those individual’s hearts. They feel passionately and strongly about what they believe in. As I’ve said before, conversation and dialogue is good. I can see that through effective communication, things are changing, and people’s eyes are being opened.
I will happily listen to other people’s views and opinions, and honestly, I’ve found most of them helpful;. Listening to adoptee and birth family voices has really made me think about adoption from their point of view. It may have changed, but even 3-4years ago when we were approved, I don’t think prospective adopters were really encouraged to seek those voices. I think listening and learning can only prepare adoptive parents, and this can only be a good thing for their children. However, as someone who is and has adopted, I will NOT tolerate being called an an abuser and a child trafficker. (By other adult adoptees). I will NOT tolerate the assumption that all adoptees have been abused, and that they go on to adopt ‘like an abuser going on to abuse’ (by this I think they mean someone has be traumatised by adoption, so go on to cause trauma to someone else by also adopting) Just to be clear, I wasn’t personally called these things, but the person/people who tweeted these was I think addressing adoptee-adopters in general. And this is the reason why I wanted to write this post. To stand up for myself, and other adopters who have grown up and adopted children themselves.
I think the thought behind these comments comes from the assumption that all adoptees have unresolved childhood trauma, and that some decide to adopt in the hope that it will fix their own hurt and pain. All adopters have different reasons and motivations to adopt, but I can categorically say that this was not mine at all. I wanted to adopt because I know and have experienced how positive it can be. I do not see my parents as my adoptive parents, I see them simply as my parents. In the same way, I do not refer to my daughter as my adopted daughter. She is my daughter, no doubt about it. For me, adoption is part of my identity, but does not define me. I am not ashamed to be adopted. I don’t hide it, but at the same time it’s not something I need or want to tell everyone I meet.
I did not want to adopt because I wanted to rescue a poor suffering child, or because I thought I could give them a better life than what they had. I hear some say that adoption is better for the child because of the life and experiences they’ll have. And others say that even with the best life in the world, no one wants to be separated from their birth family. To have all ties with their biological family severed. I have to agree with the later, and agree that regardless of what happened before a child is adopted, adoption in itself is trauma. To be honest, I don’t think I really understood or appreciated this as much before I adopted my little girl. I want to encourage those that spoke out about adoption trauma, that we do listen, and we do take on board and learn from what they say. They have helped me to think about what I can say to my daughter, and how I can help her to talk about and come to terms with her ‘trauma’ We already have direct contact (we like to call it ‘seeing (*birth family name))’, so she does have that physical link at present. Now she’s a little older she does actively participate in ‘letter box’ We have been doing formal life story work, and we talk about her birth family quite a lot. The other day she asked me if (*birth mum name) will never be her mum again. I reassured her that (*birth mum name) will always be her birth mum, and I was/will never, ever going to take that away from her. She seemed comforted by this.
As an aside, I also did not adopt because I was an ‘infertile’, or because I wanted a ‘womb wet baby’ (yes, actual terms I’ve seen people use). I do not believe that new born babies are a ‘blank slate’ who have experienced no trauma. As I said before, I adopted because I am living proof that adopted people can and do turn out ok. Because I know firsthand that adopted people can and do live happy, fulfilled lives. I know that love is not enough. However, I do know that being and feeling loved a valuable and powerful. I know that my little girl knows she is loved by us, and by her birth family. Of course I know that adopted people have differing experiences, views and experiences, not all as positive as mine. I feel saddened and angry that some adopted people were treated badly, and yes abused by their adopted families. I do believe it happens, and absolutely do not condone it. I agree these adoptees have every reason to be angry at adoption and everyone associated with it. I do agree that the adoption system at present is not perfect, and that there are things that need to change. I do believe that there are people/professionals who are trying their best in increasingly difficult and stretched services.
So, to conclude, I want to say that I am thankful I was adopted, I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I wasn’t. I am keen to work with others to try to improve adoption in its present form, and to help to educate people on the complexities of adoption. I get that adoption rarely has the ‘fairytale ending’ some want to believe it does. I do accept that others have different experiences to my own, and that’s ok. However, it’s not ok to accuse others of things which they quite simply are not.