Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Surviving Adoption

For me, adoption has long meant shame and secrecy and pretend games I didn't fully understand, yet played along anyway under adoptive parental duress.

That I had suffered pain and loss as an adoptee never occurred to my adoptive parents. For whatever reason.

That an adoptive parent would acknowledge that her child had something of value to lose and not everything to gain is, well, hard to fathom. My adoptive mother couldn't even admit that I was adopted because she hated to, "think of me that way" and, "liked to pretend I was hers." This meant that any questions about my adoption and my first mother were about as welcome as a request for a giant dildo.

Yet, there are adoptive parents out there today who a) acknowledge their adopted children had a first mother; b) acknowledge their child's loss; c) encourage their children to talk about their feelings about adoption. Of course, this new breed of adoptive parents do many other things that my adoptive parents did not, could not, would not.

One adoptive mom's blog really got me. Okay, I blubbered. You can check her out for yourself at www.allmychildren-christine.blogspot.com.

Christine talks honestly about her worries as an adoptive mom. She's also a keen observer of her daughter's often painful struggle with being an international adoptee. When I read about what her little girl is going through - with the support of her adoptive mother - I can see it all there, the pain, the loneliness, the unanswered questions and the uncertainty of my own struggle. Yet, many of us from the Closed Era had to wander The Labyrinth completely alone.

And some idiots have the nerve to call us maladjusted. It's a wonder we all didn't end up institutionalized.

Being adopted isn't easy. It's damn hard. It takes an empathetic, emotionally honest adoptive parent who puts their child's needs first. Narcissists need not apply for the job. People who feel cosmically entitled to a child because they're infertile or because they've left things too long and they're past their sell-by date, they're not such a good idea either. Because an entitled prospective parent is going to have expectations that one little baby can't meet. That's where we end up with all these weird notions and justifications about "saving children" and gratitude and all that other adoption nonsense.

Besides, The Labyrinth is like a really bad amusement park ride that severed limbs and decapitated heads before finally getting shut down. Okay, it's still up and running except it's been tweaked and renamed The Open Adoption Not-So-Fun Slide and, in the case of international adoptees, The Chair-O-Plane swing ride. I think you get my point. When adoption is finally making some progress, why go backward?

(Not that I promote adoption. In fact, it's out of control. But in cases where it can't be avoided and where children need homes, at least let them be loving, caring and capable homes)

17 Comments:

Anonymous Hopewaits said...

I was adopted at 18 months of age. I was always told that I was given up at birth by a single Mom.
I remember my aMom telling someone standing next to her (I was also there and had just done or said something wrong),"well, what can you expect,look at where she came from.
Talk about shame........

1:31 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Hopewaits,
That statement must have played over and over again in your head. No doubt, you must have internalized it. I did, although until recently I thought I hadn't. I didn't even know I felt shame. But it was there, alright. What your amom said also smacks of anger and blame. Really, it's a super loaded statement.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Similar comment here as a child of a closed adoption who's not found her bparents and no longer has any communication with her aparents.
My dad used to say when we'd screw up. "It's just how the genes hit" as if we would be such great children if only we weren't from such poor quality stock.
-Sarah

1:49 PM  
Blogger Celera said...

Children can be incredibly frustrating, and I suppose on some level it is understandable that, if the circumstance of adoption gives the parent an "easy way out" of being responsible for bad behavior, they would take it. But parenting is never about taking the easy way out. There are so many of us as adoptees who grew up with the message, quite explicitly stated in many cases, that we were doomed to be inferior because we came from inferior "stock" as Sarah said. It's helped me a little bit to realize that this isn't something my amother said because it was true, it was something she said because it made her feel better.

Nina, thanks for putting up the link to Christine's blog. It's lovely, and I added it to my subscriptions. :)

3:27 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Hi Sarah-An easy way out. Mmm. Especially in those teenage years when some kids can become especially challenging. Some days, my youngest makes me feel like running screaming from the house. And really, she's not that bad. I wonder how I'D react if she were someone else's child? It would be easy to blame her behavior on genes/stock/whatever. But also a bad idea. Because my daughter is often reacting to ME and my specific parenting...which I'm constantly trying to tweak. I suppose what amazes me is that it seems many closed era adoptive parents actually SAID what they felt as opposed to just thinking it.

So you're no longer in communication w/your aparents. You aren't alone! There was a thread on the AAAC forum on estrangement from a-parents. Was surprised by the number. It also seemed that the reason often had to do with the aparents behaving very conditionally...if their adult children did X, they'd cut off the "kids." I'm sorry to hear that. All of us would like at least one set of functional, supportive parents.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Celera,

"this isn't something my amother said because it was true, it was something she said because it made her feel better."

Definitely not true! But when she said it to make herself feel better, it came at a cost to you, I suspect. Just one of the many negative messages that we internalize. It's one thing to have "bad BEHAVIOR"...it's another thing to think you're bad because are born that way or are somehow inferior. Ouch.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Annie said...

Hi Nina,

Thanks again for all you write. I've been away from the blogs for a while - needed some kind of break from the issues - but its good to be back knowing we are not alone in our narcissistic adoption stuff.

And thanks for that link - finally an adoptive mother who has a heart and is able to put her children ahead of her own needs - so refreshing and encouraging.

Best wishes, Annie

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