Monday, June 4, 2012

Adoption

Bev is telling me the plans she has for her children this summer, which includes a visit to the grandparents.  As she describes the relationship her children have with them, I think of the fact that her children were adopted.

I am uncomfortable with my thoughts; wondering why I have differentiated them from children born of their mother’s womb.
When I leave Bev, I ponder the question and it takes me back to my childhood. I think of my first cousin, Andrea; how I was told that she “was adopted,” way back when I was in early elementary school.

It didn’t matter. There were no horns growing from her head or green spots on her face. She was the same cousin I’d always known.

In later years, maybe during my late teens, I noticed that Grandma did not speak of her when referring to her grandchildren; and neither did my father’s sister - our only paternal aunt - refer to her as her niece. I tried to figure out if it was due to her “not looking like us” or if Grandma and Aunt T. had issues with Andrea’s mother - the in-law.

Was that the root of my attention to who’s adopted?

My thoughts continue to hop from one adoption story to another as I drive the interstate toward home.
Doug is 48. He claims he wants to find his birth mother. A while ago, he gave me the name and number of a woman who works for an agency that deals with past adoptions; a woman he has spoken to. The agency needs a small administrative fee to get started. When I spoke to her, she asked why “he” did not call back, and suggested that he is not “really” ready to begin a search; that he’s stalling, using the fee as an excuse; that something is holding him back. She explained to me a series of steps to “prepare” him and the birth parents; that all sorts of scenarios could possibly exist. It was an eye-opener for me and I decided to let it go because I believed what she said; that something is holding Doug back.

I was introduced to Sandra during a walk with the girls and our dogs. She joined us a few more times and I learned that her children were adopted while we were talking about our pregnancies.
“Oh, you didn’t have to endure morning sickness or carry yours,” I said, making a small joke. And then, seriously, I said, “Oh, but your arms must have had a workout when the baby came home since you didn’t have the 35 pounds of extra weight to carry around to prepare you.”

“That’s right,” Sandra responded, as she added her stories of physical challenges due to her new 7 pound wonder.
It was a normal and natural conversation. No one took away points because she didn’t give birth to her children.

On the other hand, when another new friend told me her children were adopted and the reasons why, I was caught off guard because of the tone of her voice, and awkwardly said something like, “Adoption is a wonderful thing,” …and it is.

My friend Brenda is 55 and wants to contact her birth parents. She has requested, via an agency, three times. Each time, the birth mother said no. Because she knows a few details about her biological father, I’m curious to know why she doesn’t do some digging on her own. But it’s her decision; isn’t it?

One of my male relatives has a child who is in her 50s. She was raised by her mother’s husband, only knowing “him” as her father. The male relative does not want to contact her; does not want to “interrupt” her life. I wonder if she is out there looking for him.

Still driving along on I-95, I conclude that adoption continues to be an awkward conversation at times; that some still say, “Ohhhh,” when someone tells their adoption story. Does this happen more with same race parents and children? Are we more surprised because we did not know of the adoption in these families, as opposed to the white families who have adopted Chinese girls, South American children, or black boys and girls, with many people thinking they are so brave for doing so?

I do think adoption is wonderful and necessary. Like most things in life, it has its kinks and controversies, however, those elements are majorly outweighed.

What do you think? Do you have an adoption story to share?

The image above is the adoption symbol. The three sides of the triangle represent the birth mother, the child, and the adoptive parents. The heart represents the love that ties them together. This is the first time I've seen or heard of this symbol. I do not know its origin.

13 comments:

Mari said...

Very good post!
I have 3 nieces who are adopted. One came from China, 2 came from Russia. The two from Russia are actually biological sisters. My sister and her hubby had adopted, then got a phone call from the Dr at the orphanage saying their daughter had a sister there and were they interested? What could they say? They named her Halle - which means unexpected blessing. And she has been a blessing. We can't imagine life without any of them!

Hilary said...

My cousin has two adopted children.. each from different birth mothers and born just ten months apart.

She kept in touch with her son's birth mother (previously a teenaged stranger to her) for a number of years, providing photos, videos and information about him upon request. He is now 25 and has spent quite a bit of time with his birth parents but considers my cousin as his only real mother.

Her daughter's birth mother (a single woman in her 30s) wanted to know nothing and I believe there has been no contact to this day.

Each story is so different. Each child is loved deeply. That's all that really matters in the end.

Simone said...

I was blessed to be at my nieces's birth while her bmom gave birth to her. My sister and her husband lived 3 1/2 hours away when she went into labor. The birth plan was that I be there to welcome Mariah into the world. Her birthmom didn't want to see her or hold her and I couldn't help but tear up seeing her precious little face. She is now 16 and a pain in the butt sometimes, talking about how dark skinned she is and how she isn't "pretty". I remind her often that God really knew what he was doing when he placed her in her mom and dad's hearts and arms. Adoption really can be a beautiful thing!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I wasn't aware of the symbol either. Very dear friends of mine, tried very hard to have their own children - she had lost her ovaries at 14. Long process - very difficult. They then adopted. Another long ride that has also been a most interesting roller coaster for them.

You raise an interesting point. Points. So many, I'm not certain how to comment. Today's families are made up of such different entities (can people be entities?) But adoptive children, so wanted by those that adopted them, struggle thinking that someone gave them away. I can't imagine that feeling.

Would I want to find my adoptive parents if I had them - I think so. Curiosity would kill me. But I can't say for sure, as I don't know what an adopted child might feel.

I was a big help, huh?

Cathy said...

Hello Anita
I always look forward to your (far too infrequent) posts and this is a good one!

I was interested in reading all your thoughts and recollections on this subject but having said that I must tell you that I have never known or had 'dealings with' anyone who has adopted a child or been an adopted child so cannot add a knowledgeable comment

However back in the 1970s and 80s there was a lot of publicity here in Australia regarding overseas adoptions that were taking place (from Asia at that time - mainly post war Vietnam)and I'm sure there have been follow up 'stories' but I really don't remember them being publicised.

I wonder if some of those children would ever want to find their roots even if it was a painful journey?

Take care
Cathy

Cathy @ Still Waters


commenting via blogger - above link is to new blog at wordpress

Just Two Chicks said...

I love the symbol! Like you, I had no idea there was such a symbol, so thank you!

My dad was adopted. This caused me much anxiety when I was pregnant, because they want to know a family medical history, and I had nothing on my dad. If you know me and my OCD ways, you would know how this bothered me.

You know the wife and I were looking into adoption only a few short months ago. We decided, that at our age, we shouldn't continue. We wanted to adopt a child with Downs Syndrome, so our age would hinder us, which would not be fair to the child. We were already worrying about who would take car of him/her when we were no longer here or too old and ill. Ahhh, that was a hard final decision for us to make.

All in all, I think adopting is a wonderful option for both the birth parents and the adoptive parents, and it would be so easy to accept and love a child regardless of whether I had them or not.

I am curious about your cousin though, and the reasoning behind that. You need to give us an update on that! :)

Jeff D'Antonio said...

Well, my adoption story is a little different from most. We sort of entered into the adoption world by accident, when my best friend died and left behind a terrified 6-year old girl with nowhere else to go. That kind of adoption comes with its own set of challenges, above and beyond the usual. Unlike an infant adoption, she'll always remember her birth parents, and the challenge lies in not trying to "replace" what was lost. We've always known that we could never replace her real parents, and we've tried hard to weave their past into our family in such a way that it feels almost seamless. It took her about 3 years to start calling us mom and dad - we never pushed that, we just let it come naturally. From our perspective, she is as much a part of our family as our other children, and I know she feels that too. She has carved out a place for herself in our family tree, and she considers herself one of us now. Her legal last name is different from ours, but she uses both names interchangeably - sometimes even a hyphenated form using both. We didn't change her last name when we adopted her because it's an important part of who she is, and her birth parents are still a part of her. Adopting Katie has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I can't begin to imagine life without her.

I really like the triangle and heart symbol - it perfectly symbolizes the love between us.

Linda Hensley said...

I have a great nephew with an undiagonosed growing problem. The doctors want to know family histories, but the grandmother on the other side was adopted, so there's no way of knowing the family history and how that might be effecting my nephew. Adoption is a wonderful thing, but more openness would be even more wonderful for everybody. Always interesting to see what you're going to write about!

connienaka said...

Interesting subject. I remember the subject came up a while back at the dinner table and hubby told me that in Japan adoption is almost unheard of. I asked why...and he shrugged and said people just don't want to adopt...I guess there is a stigma attached to adoption. So I asked him-what happens to kids who loose their parents? He told me usually the extended family takes them in or...they go to an orphanage. Growing up in Wisconsin I had several friends who were of Asian ancestry and were adopted. I never really even thought about it then....not until I was actually married and was looking through an old high-school yearbook of mine and realized that several friends must have been adopted. I knew their parents and they were middle-class white folks..not Asian. In Saipan it was quite common for a relative to raise another relative's child. Usually something like that happens when there is a child born to a teenaged girl or for financial reasons. Sometimes it's made "legal" in court and sometimes it's not. All in all I think adoption is a good thing.

Abby said...

Before reading this, I never realized how I felt about adoption - or rather people who adopt or are adopted. I realize I know several people who are either themselves adopted, or who have adopted children.

I used to rent a room from a woman whose daughter had a baby and gave it up for adoption. It was an open adoption where she chose the adopting couple, and I wonder about open vs. closed adoptions.

My neice and her husband recently adopted a toddler from South America. She is very cute and happy looking. It's clear that my neice and her husband aren't her biological parents, but she is definitely family. I wonder about your cousin and the non-references.

Sandra said...

Loved this post! So open and honest, and I love that you admit to not knowing what to say. I'm adopted. When I was pregnant with my first and my mother came shopping for maternity outfits with me, THAT was awkward. I finally just asked her, "Are you sad that you didn't get to do this?" And she replied, "God no! I'm glad I didn't have the nausea and the heartburn and the hemorrhoids."...ok, then, that solved that. Great GREAT post!

Rebecca S. said...

I have a friend who adopted three girls, two with the same birth mother. The adoptions have been open ones and that has brought its own blessings, its own challenges along the way - I'm just glad that is an option nowadays. My aunt gave up a baby and then searched for her for 25 years. Finally they met and it was a much harder process for my aunt than for my cousin, her daughter. There was so much emotion involved for my dear aunt, so much to deal with. However, they have a good relationship I believe now. Not easy, but good.
I enjoyed reading Jeff's story about his adopted daughter Katie - it proves that life goes on, especially if love continues.

Hilary said...

What a thoughtful post. When I was in elementary school, there were one or two kids who were adopted. It wasn't a big deal to a bunch of grade schoolers. I think we talked about it on the playground at recess and then moved onto bigger things like what we were going to be for Halloween.

I have several friends who have adopted and from what I understand, it is a grueling process. I don't think it matters where the child came from so long as where they are going is a family in need of and willing to give lots of love.