Welcome everyone from ICLW week – I’m on vacation for the next few weeks so I thought I would post this entry that I actually wrote a while back but just never published, it’s regarding our opinions on adoption. Please note that these are just my opinions on adoption for my husband and I – this isn’t about other people’s decision to complete their families by adoption so please don’t read it as such. Also, feel free to peruse some of my other entries; I look forward to hearing from people for ICLW week!
Early on in my blogging I professed that the hubs and I weren’t interested in pursuing adoption to complete our family. I have always pretty much been of this mindset, my husband on the other hand never had to think about it till after we had tried and failed to conceive naturally. We talked about it a great deal and I listed for him all the reasons I wasn’t interested in taking that route. Hubs did a little research and reported back that as things currently stand neither is he. I told him that if it was something that at any point he wanted to do to please speak up, as it’s a mutual decision and my long standing feelings on the subject shouldn’t be the only factor.
Now what are these “long-standing feelings” one might ask, it’s pretty simple – actually no, it’s not even remotely simple.
Let me give you some background first! My mom didn’t have me until she was 38 years old. Prior to having me she was in a craptastic marriage with a man who beat her and one of the “reasons” was because she couldn’t get pregnant. When she was a very young newlywed she often babysat for local kids and one day one of the mothers didn’t pick up her little girl. My mother tried to reach her and couldn’t and she didn’t really know what to do – instead of contacting the authorities my mother kept silent – she raised this little girl for almost a year before the mother finally came back to get her – my mother was around nineteen at the time and had no idea that she could have gone to the authorities to show that the little girl had been abandoned, instead she turned over the girl that she had raised for a year to her “mother” never to see her again. A few years later she heard of a family member on her husband’s side who had a bunch of children and had just had another one and didn’t want to keep the baby, so my mother (who wanted nothing more in life than to be a mother) offered to take the baby. The woman dropped off the baby and said she would sign the adoption papers at a later date. My mother didn’t hear from this woman for a few months then out of the blue she called and said she wanted her child back, my mother was heartbroken but since the papers were never signed she didn’t have any recourse so she gave back the little boy. A few weeks later she got a phone call from the woman saying “I can’t take this kid crying anymore, you want to come pick him up I’ll sign whatever you want me to sign”. My mother immediately drove over to the motel that the woman was living in with all her kids – years later she told me how she found my brother wearing a diaper that clearly hadn’t been changed for days and all the other kids were incredibly neglected looking. The woman said she would sign the papers and mail them back to my mother, she never did. She raised my brother without ever “officially” adopting him and always fearing the possibility of losing him. A few years later another “family situation” happened, this time via a family friend, the woman knew someone who was mentally ill who had given birth and the father had taken the baby. However he was unable to continue to look after his child so he decided to give her up. My mother agreed to adopt the child who was 18mths old (this was in 1971), all the papers were signed and she brought my sister home. My mother often told me that she wondered if because of whatever my sister had been put through and her age if my sister was incapable of attaching to her. While my brother loved my mother and was very loving towards her my sister was aloof, cried a lot and ate like a bird. As she grew up those traits grew and she became incredibly narcissistic and it is believed that she suffers from antisocial personality disorder.
My mother eventually divorced her husband and ended up pregnant via a boyfriend a few years later. I grew up with siblings but not really, not only were they so much older than me (fourteen years and ten years respectively) we were nothing alike – it was something I believed to really be a case where nature won out over nurture – we all were raised by the same woman but somehow we all ended up with completely different moral compasses (especially in the case of my sister).
I remember growing up and being angry at them because they still had contact with their birth families, they would call their birth mothers “mom” and I couldn’t (and still can’t) wrap my head around that – my mother loved them, she raised them – she is their mother.
I realize that for many adopted children having a connection with their birth families is important to them, but I will admit I don’t understand how you can understand the circumstances of your birth and your adoption (especially in the case of my brother) and still want something to do with those people.
Maybe all of this makes me a horrible person, but this is honestly what is in my mind and in my heart. The truth is that the number one reason I could never adopt is because I grew up with siblings who were, I felt cut off from them as family, and I felt that they did our mother completely wrong with many of their words and their actions. I could never ever do an open adoption because of a lifetime of experience with this and after my husband researched the issue he doesn’t feel comfortable with a fully open adoption. Since the majority of adoptions in the United States are open adoption that rules out the majority of adoption options for us.
The second reason I would prefer not to adopt is that when I was about 25 years old I took custody via the foster care system of one of my second cousins; she was 12 at the time. I tried to give her the best home I could (with the absolute zero help/training/prep I got from the state). She had come from an incredibly horrible background filled with every type of abuse imaginable; I thought I was doing the right thing by taking her in. She fought with me on everything (as was to be expected), she even made up a false rape claim to excuse an absence from school (stating that she was raped on her way to the school bus – which was eventually discovered to not be remotely true), she wouldn’t go to school, she was violent and it finally came to a head when she physically attacked my mother – at that moment I had reached my breaking point. I called social services and they were absolutely no help – at that point I told them that I couldn’t handle it and they had to place her elsewhere, I was hoping that her grandfather or one of her aunts would step up and be willing to take her but no one was and she ended up back in the foster care system. I felt like a failure and in many ways in that situation I was – but I was also an unmarried 25 year old that had not been trained to adequately deal with a child with her magnitude of problems. It was a situation that was set up for spectacular failure from the start; I wish it had ended differently. However, from that situation I saw how completely inept the foster care system in my state is and how I would prefer never to attempt to deal with them again.
Third and final reason why adoption is not for me is that I feel that you have to almost sell yourself as a couple. You have to show why they should pick you over everyone else; I don’t like the idea of having to market myself and my husband. Should the birth parents be able to choose who raises their child? Of course! I’m not trying to imply that they shouldn’t be able to. I just know that the bottom line is that in a line-up of potential parents who is going to get picked; option a.) the pretty young couple with awesome jobs, with the nice house that looks like a west elm catalog, who go to church every Sunday with the picture perfect relatives or option b.) the handsome husband with the fat frumpy wife who stays at home while her husband works a warehouse job, with the modest house that is never clean enough thanks to three dogs, who are not Christian and have the type of relatives (at least on my side) that you need a chart or a Jerry Springer show to figure out? I don’t feel like our chances of being “picked” are that great.
I have enough self-awareness to realize that a lot of my issues might be misplaced, but it’s still our decision to make. – I just know that I believe in my heart that adoption IS a wonderful thing just not for me. There are so many families that are made this way and that work out and are better for it and I wish that would have been my experience but it wasn’t and I can’t change that. So as it currently stands we will be going down the IVF route if that doesn’t work we will revisit the issue, but most likely the only other thing we would consider would be surrogacy.
Sometimes I feel like because I don’t want to pursue adoption that it might mean my dreams of being a parent never come to fruition or that people might think I don’t really care about being a parent in general as I’m not willing to do “everything” to make it happen. As much as I like to pretend I don’t give a crap about what other people think that isn’t necessarily true (is it for anyone really?). I always get so frustrated at the people who make comments like “well if you can’t have kids why don’t you just adopt” – like we can all just mosey on down to the local babies ‘r us and pick up a baby in the “adoptable baby” aisle. Adoption is a choice many people make and that many other people don’t want to make, it can be heartbreaking, time consuming, expensive and sometimes even scary. However, it can also be wonderful, full of happiness and love and worth every single minute you devoted, but it’s still a choice that isn’t for everyone.