Wow. I just spent way too much time reading posts on another blog–one written by a birthmother. A disgruntled birthmother. And while reading her story in its entirety explains a lot about where she is coming from, what I really want to talk about is contained here and here. The first post is about how she thinks domestic adoption should be changed. The second is how she feels it should be changed.
Without going into great detail, she feels that all domestic adoptions should go through Children’s Protective Services–because government isn’t involved enough in our lives. Her proposal is that all women considering adoption should be required to attend mandatory
brainwashing counseling, in which they would be told all of the “risks” of adoption (by the way, choosing an adoption for your child does not cause secondary infertility any more than adopting fixes infertility–the lifestyle (i.e. sexual) choices that lead a person to become pregnant outside of a stable relationship are frequently compatible with STD’s, which can lead to fertility issues), and then handheld through exactly what government handouts they might qualify for if they were to parent. If, after all of this “education,” they are still misguided enough to want to make an adoption plan, they would not be able to sign away parental rights for, I think it was at least a week, after which there would be a six week revokation period, with an additional two week extension possible. Assuming she hasn’t changed her mind during this two month period, she can then choose adoptive parents, who would be forced to sign a legally binding open adoption contract, giving the birthmother absolute right to visitation. Wait, you may be asking, “What’s going on with the baby during this two month waffle consideration time for the birthmother?” Well, foster care, naturally. Because allowing a birthmother time to be pressured into parenting change her mind is more important than giving a child stability in the first couple of months of his or her life.
There are two main reasons that I am so disturbed by this line of thinking (OK, more than two, but I’m trying to limit my reaction here). First, everything about this is centered on what “feels good” for the birthmother. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t think that the feelings of the potential adoptive couple should be the focus. I DO think that potential adoptive parents should be protected much more than they are. I do not think that it should be legal to ask PAP’s to financially support a pregnant woman in ANY way before a child is born–allowing financial support can put too much pressure on the pregnant woman to choose the adoption, as well as (and I think probably more commonly) leaving the PAP’s open to being financially screwed by con artists who have no intention of ever considering adoption. But, without a question, the person whose best interest should be protected is the child.
A very popular line of thinking that I have encountered is that adoption is a “permanent solution to a temporary problem.” And that, with help from the government, a woman can get through the “temporary” problems and life will be hunky dorey. I’ve experienced too much of life to even begin to believe this. When Sean and I married, we joked that we were bucking family tradition by not having any children first. It has effected several generations in his family. As a result, I get to see it on every level–from the infants of teenage parents to the adults that were raised by them. It is not temporary. Being raised by someone who is neither emotionally or financially ready has life-long implications. At 30-years-old, my husband is still effected by his parents’ lack of their own youth. I have watched friends whose children were more emotionally attached to their grandmothers than their own moms because their mothers weren’t ready to lose their teenage social life. Youth and lack of finances may be temporary, but their effects on young children are not.
This leads me to my other concern–adoption guilt. I think that it is sometimes easy for adoptive parents to feel so much love for their children that they become guilty over what they perceive as depriving the birth parents of that joy. I have a completely open adoption. I am fully conscious of the fact that, four and a half years later, my son’s birth mother and her family still feel great pain over the decision she made. I honestly don’t know if she would change that decision if she could. I feel great sadness over what she has been through–but not guilt. I have no question that he would have grown up surrounded by love. He also would have been cared for financially. He would not, however, have the same stability in his life that he has now.
Is adoption the “ideal” situation? In a lot of ways, I suppose not. But we don’t live in an “ideal” world. If we did, all children would be conceived in a stable, loving relationship with the guarantee of two committed parents that would remain a consistent, positive influence in their lives. Sometimes, families end up more like patchwork quilts. You pick up the scraps and make something beautiful. And make no mistake about it, adoption is a beautiful thing.