I often give my opinion of open adoption and the resulting question from hopeful adoptive parents or adoptive parents is: What could your Amom* have done to be better or make your adoption better for you?
I really wish that people would take time to read, not only my blog, but as many adoptee blogs as possible, but often, people just want their question answered as quickly as possible. This sometimes makes me angry because I often interpret it as: “Look, I don’t have the time, interest etc. to read over your blog, so can you just break it down for me and give me some hard and fast answers so I can move forward with my plans.”
Instead of getting angry, I’ve decided to give an answer here, so that I will have a place I can direct people since my answer is lengthy. Here are the things I can think of off the top of my head that my Amom could have done better/differently. There are many more, but this is a good start for my answer to the question.
What could your adoptive mom have done differently or better?
- BEFORE adopting, my Amom really should have thought through whether or not she was capable of being an adoptive parent.
- To answer question one, she should have sought counseling for herself.
- She should have resolved at least SOME of HER childhood issues BEFORE adopting.
- She should have questioned whether she was truly a patient person.
- She should have questioned whether she was a person who sought to understand others.
- She should have questioned whether she was capable of loving another woman’s baby as much and equally as her own biological child.
- She should have considered HOW her childhood issues would play into her role and expectations of herself as a mother and especially as an adoptive mother.
- She should have truly, TRULY examined how manipulative she was and could be. (This has a direct impact on what ethics, or lack thereof, one will display in what she is willing to do and accept in a largely unethical industry that trades infants/children for money.)
- In a follow up to #8, she should have asked herself if helping an infant’s mom, could have helped the mom keep the baby. Adoptees often want the answer to that particular question when they grow up.
- She should NOT have viewed adoption as CHARITY.
- She should have done everything she could to understand the loss and grief that an infant will go through in losing his/her entire family, yes, even in open adoption. She should have done this BEFORE making the decision to adopt.
- She should have considered whether she was racist and/or carried prejudices toward other races and especially that of the infant she was adopting.
- She should have considered if adopting was an act of convenience that would later become inconvenient (and costly).
- Once she got me, here are few things she could have done better or differently, starting with – she should NOT have hit me.
- She shouldn’t have teased me about my race.
- She shouldn’t have presented one face in front of others and kept a face of anger reserved for me behind closed doors (here is where #3 would have come in handy.)
- She shouldn’t have used me as a prop.
- She shouldn’t have grown tired of me as I got older.
- She should have shown understanding when I had abandonment issues and understood that it will happen at different ages and during different situations throughout my life. (Here is where #4, #5 and #11 would have come in handy.)
- She should have been prepared for MY anger.
- She should have been prepared for MY acting out.
- She should have known that adopting a child IS different from having a child and will require more patience and understanding.
- She should have sought professional help for me when I was very young and started displaying behaviors she didn’t know how to handle.
- She should have been willing to be part of the process in accepting professional help for me, for herself and for us together as well as part of the family.
- She should not have spoken to others about my issues in front of me or in any public manner whatsoever.
- She should have shown respect towards my biological family and not have viewed them as “less than” her.
- She should not have viewed open adoption as an opportunity to teach me a lesson in how I escaped a bullet in living with my biological family.
- She should not have viewed open adoption as an opportunity to teach me a lesson in appreciating what she was providing materialistically.
- She should have respected my opinions and not tried to set rules on how I felt.
- She should have acknowledged my feelings rather than trying to talk me into seeing things in a more positive manner.
- She should have allowed me to show anger.
- She should have allowed ME to determine the amount of contact I had with my biological family as I got older.
- She should not have recruited my biological mom to back her up in disagreements with me.
- She should have understood that the time period after visits was excruciating and that it took weeks or even months to adjust.
- She should have understood that I held two very different roles within two very different families and that I took this on at a very young age (4).
- As an extra “wish,” I wish she could have understood that I faced every single issue that closed adoption adoptees face, including all of the same reunion issues, except I was 4, 6, 8 years old. (The obvious exception being that I didn’t have to search for my biological family.)
- She should have understood that at a very young age—4, 6, 8 years old—I was navigating horrendous complexities in relationships such as trying to be a sister to someone who was incredibly jealous and competitive with me over the fact that I had “things” while I was incredibly jealous and competitive over the fact that she had my original mom. She, ever saddened and angry that she hadn’t also been adopted out and me, ever saddened and angry that I had been adopted out.
- She should have known that I felt adopted out of one family and adopted into another and that through open adoption, I was always reminded of that fact at a very young age and that because of this, never felt as though I truly belonged in either family.
- She should not have introduced me as her “adopted daughter” throughout my entire life.
- She should have considered how her extended family would treat me and whether they could accept an outsider as their own. This includes examining whether uncles would display unwanted physical attraction, whether her mother (my supposed grandmother) would never make eye contact with me, whether the invitations to family events would stop once I was older and whether her family would only be accepting of me in her presence.
- And maybe just because I’m feeling a little selfish today, maybe it would have been nice if she had went the extra mile to understand that adoption completely changes a person’s identity. She could have acknowledged and became part of the movement to open records (or possibly not change a person’s identity to begin with). She could have understood that I never agreed to have my identity erased. I wasn’t able to sign off on a document that said my authentic ancestry, race and name were no longer who I was AND that I wouldn’t even be able to access that information (YES, EVEN IN OPEN ADOPTION). Maybe she could have talked about the fact that MY birth certificate was a complete lie and maybe, just maybe, she could talk about it while not crying and feeling sorry for herself!
So these are just a few things I’ve jotted down in a few minutes. These are the things that I can think of from my own point of view in my own situation. I really hope that other adoptees may comment with a few of their own, but every hopeful adoptive parent should realize that no adoptee owes you these answers. The answers are out there. It’s YOUR responsibility to search out these answers—for yourself and for any child you may adopt.
About the Author: Kat was adopted and raised in an open adoption. She writes about her story, post adoption issues and current issues of adoptees at sisterwish.com, where this was originally published.
*”Amom” is shorthand for “adoptive mom.”