Having Been Adopted...

... and how I feel about it now, over 50 years later. Regardless of how I might have felt at the time, what I might have wanted or even what might have been better for me in the long run, my future appears to have been neatly arranged for me by complete strangers well before I was even born. Or was it?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm really not an expert - BUT...

... I am of "a certain age" - which is to say, I've been around the block a few times. I am old enough and have experienced enough of life to have matured a little bit and to have learned a little bit.

Upon closer reflection, I think that perhaps my opinion about adoption has not really changed all that much over the years. Most of my feelings haven't really changed either - it's just that I am no longer pretending or suppressing quite as much as I used to. I no longer say what people expect or want to hear from me quite as much.

This is what I believe - and it has nothing to do with how I feel about my mother or my father - my adoptive parents, who were the only parents I've ever had. They loved me - that I know.

I adored my dad - not a day goes by when I don't miss him in the most profound way. His death from cancer eleven years ago is the most terrible thing that has ever happened to me in my life thus far. I loved my mom, too - but it was never easy being her child. I think had I been her natural child and been as I am, it would have been even harder... but since my sister and I were adopted and as Mom's opinion of "nurture over nature" changed 180% once we had developed our own personalities, we probably got cut some slack. We were nothing like her - and she wasn't prepared for that.

I do not say the following to hurt anyone, but it is a fact. Adoption is unnatural. It may be an ancient practice, going back to well before the time of Moses - but it's still not natural. That does not, however, make it inherently bad. But it is not Nature's intention for a woman to go through nine months of physical, emotional and hormonal changes, give birth to a baby and then hand it over to someone else to nurture. It goes against the natural order of things and to say otherwise is to deny Nature in it's purest form.

I do not believe that ALL adoptions are bad - obviously that is not true. There are children all over the world who have been orphaned or otherwise have no one to love and care for them. There are women who should never be left alone with a child for even two minutes, let alone become a parent and the same is true of men. I have a friend who was terribly abused and neglected by her natural parents, as were her many siblings. All of these children were finally removed from their dangerous parents and were ultimately adopted. None of them were infants. All of them are scarred emotionally from the traumas of abuse and neglect, removal, foster care and adoption. My friend struggles with her past - but looks to the future in her own child. She has little contact with either of her families and takes refuge in the relationship she has built with her husband's parents.

But that is NOT what happened to me, or to my sister, or to any of my friends who also happen to be adopted, save for this one... ONE... adoptee friend of mine. The rest of us, all born in the late 1940's to the early 1960's, were surrendered for adoption at birth for one reason and one reason only:

Our mothers were unmarried.

That was it. Most of them were young, still in their teens, but not all. They just weren't married. And that is a pretty crummy reason to give up your baby. It was a crummy reason then, although I do understand it - but it's an even crummier reason now and does not stand the test of time.

My personal belief is that adoption is probably a better solution than a group home or an orphanage is for those children who truly need homes and have no relatives at all who are willing or able to care for them.

However - I also believe that it is in the best interest of any child to remain within her (or his) family of origin - IF, of course, it is a safe environment and all other factors being equal - than it is to be removed from it and be given a new name, a new identity, a false background complete with ancestors from whom she does not descend and be denied her own natural name, heritage and genealogy. When that happens, the answers to the questions every adoptee has had or will have at one time or another – from the most basic "who do I look like?" to "Does this disease run in your family?" - are denied them forever.