Breaking the Flaxen Cords

I have been putting off writing for a few days now. I think that it has mostly been because I knew that I wanted to write more about adoption, but I never seem to have the time, or brainpower, to do it justice. As that doesn’t seem to be changing, I guess I’ll just have to dive in and give it my best.

About a week ago, I wrote my thoughts regarding an “adoption reform” proposal I had come across. I received responses to my post that prompted me to look further into some of the adoption blogs out there. I was really shocked at some of the things that I read. As I was telling my sister (in the middle of her second international adoption) about these things, her response was to sigh and say, “Oh yes, the wonderful adoption world out there in blogger-land.” Adoption World? Blogger Land? It sounded too much like a ride at an amusement park. Heck, the ride already exists–multicultural kids and all. We’d just have to tweak the words a little:

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears

It’s a world of hope and a world of fears

There’s so much we COULD share,

But it’s time you’re aware,

I’m not listening at all.

I’m not listening at all,

I’m not listening at all,

Since your brain is Oh, so small,

I’m not listening at all!

Ha! Now it can be stuck in your head for days (infernal song). What? You’ve never heard the Small World song? Well, after some of the things I have read, I’m convinced that there are some people out there who never made it that far. I’m guessing that they’re still at the Imagination Institute, trying to convince Figment that what they are calling for is adoption reform, and not abolition.

All references to the most magical place on earth aside (I LOVE Disney World), I really am shocked at how venomous the adoption debate has become in the close to five years since I was actively researching it. I don’t know if the views have truly become that more extreme, or if access to them is just so much more accessible. You see, when I was in the process of adopting my son, blogging was still a relatively new thing. Sure, you had larger websites where people kept “diaries” (I did this for over a year as I struggled through infertility), but actual blogging was just gaining momentum. And honestly, that is where most of the venom (on both sides of the debate) seems to be.

There are a few topics that I have encountered, though, that I want to speak to specifically. I have seen posts on a few different blogs lately that bashed an adoptee for using the term “birth ladies” to refer to biological mothers. OK, I can understand not wanting to be called this (although I get the impression that this was a personal matter for the adoptee–I can’t say for sure, though, since none of the blogs give any actual references to allow a reader to see the statements in their context). The thing is, I see a great amount of insistence about exactly what we SHOULD be calling biological parents. “First Mother” and “Mommy fill-in-the-blank” ranking pretty high among them. Many seem to take issue with the term “birthmother” as too impersonal. Yet, these same people seem very insistent on using the term “natural mother” to describe themselves. This bugs me. In the world of adoption terminology political correctness, “natural parents” has long been considered offensive. It implies that there is something unnatural about the fact that I am parenting my son. The same goes for “real mother,” which I have seen used several times.

Here is my take on the whole thing: There are certain terms in our society that, as a whole, we consider offensive. These generally have to do with racial status (I actually saw a rather impressive list of these on one post–I’d never even heard of some of them before). But when it comes to adoption, there are no societal mores. We should all try to be considerate of one another’s roles in the lives of the children. That means using respectful language towards one another–not intentionally using terms that we know the other side (so to speak) finds offensive, or trying to force anyone to refer to us in a way that makes them uncomfortable.

My next issue: Abortion. I am amazed at how many birthmothers seem to advocate this in place of considering adoption. Feel free to explain this to me if I’m wrong, but it just seems like you are saying that you think that your child, who you obviously regret not parenting, would be better off dead than with another family who, thank you very much, loves them every bit as much as they would a child born to them (and yes, I am absolutely qualified to say this, seeing as how I HAVE biological children, too). I just don’t get this line of thinking. I pressed one birthmother on this issue and it stopped our conversation. Right. There. She wouldn’t respond. I found an article (I’m not going to link to it since it is plastered all over the internet and I don’t feel like giving it any more exposure than it is already seeking) that tried to make the argument that there is, in fact, no decision between adoption and abortion. The line of thinking was that the decision to abort has to be made BEFORE birth, and the decisions about adoption should be made AFTER birth. That is unrealistic and ridiculous. A young woman, in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, is faced with the decision of whether or not she wants to be a parent. It is when she feels that she cannot parent that she then moves on to abortion or adoption. That doesn’t mean that she can’t change her mind after the baby is born (about the adoption decision). But to claim that there is no decision made between the two is laughable.

The last thing that I will touch on: God. Don’t tell me what I’m allowed to believe. I’m not going to go too deep into this one, because there is way too much to be said. I will say, however, that just because you believe life is random and meaningless does not mean that I have to. Or that I’m not allowed to discuss my firm belief that my son was meant to be part of my family. We can agree to disagree on this point, but don’t tell me that I’m horrible and insensitive because I dare express the fact that I see purpose in how things have happened.

As I have been reading (on both sides of the debate), I have seen a lot of opinion that hasn’t been supported by much fact. Of course, feelings can’t have a lot of facts and figures attached, but a lot of “factual” statements are made without proof. I’m trying to find answers to some of the questions that I have. The internet is obviously not the best place to look for unbiased opinions. (What is unbiased? For one thing, I’d like my facts to come from someplace that doesn’t include rants against adoption, OR pictures of the perfect, smiling couples who are waiting for you to choose them as the parents of your child.) When I find my answers, I’ll tell you my questions.

Until then, do me a favor. When you feel angry over the decisions you made, don’t blame me. I didn’t “steal” your child. I loved the point that one birthmother made: adoptive couples aren’t horrible people that are responsible for the decisions you regret (and there are plenty of birthmothers who DON’T regret their decisions). We are people who wanted to be parents, and who love our children with every ounce of our being.



Filed under adoption, Soap Box

8 responses to “Breaking the Flaxen Cords

  1. Wow I am an adoptive Mom and had no clue of all this controversy going on. I guess ignorance is bliss sometimes. Whenever there is a really positive thing-like adoption-there is always something to bring it down.
    Debbie aka The Real World Martha

  2. Since I write on the topic every day, I am far too familiar with the “wonderful adoption world out there in blogger land”. Some of the more vociferous anti-adoption nuts have almost as much fun kicking me as they do trashing the entire concept of adoption. Lucky me.

    Anyway … on the terminology front, I really hate the term “adopters”, and most who use it do so as an intentional affront, substituting it for the correct word: PARENTS.

  3. McH

    I too have always wondered about the labels associated with the adoption communitee. I think that the terms mother and father should be used to denote the biological parents. They are formal titles that denote the role they played in bringing to this child into the world.

    The adoptive parents could be denoted as mom and dad. Moms and Dads are the ones that raised the child, loved on them every day and was there for the child all along the way. Regardless of genetic ties.

    I use those terms to distinguish between my biological father who contributed my genetic makeup but had no part in my rearing and my step-dad who raised me for 18 years.

    Just a thought.

  4. Mixed Nuts


    Now that you mention it, I have noticed that one. I was wondering–how do I find your professional blog? I’ve looked around for it a bit, but wasn’t successful.

  5. Mixed Nuts

    M~ (I just can’t bring myself to refer to you as McH–just seems a little awkward),

    I have no problem with anyone who wants to do that. I don’t because, as I said before, society at large isn’t privy to adoption language as it is, and this is just one more subtle distinction. Most people, having only one set of “parents,” use both terms (mom and mother) to refer to the same person. Unless you explain the distiction to everyone, they won’t really get it. That’s why I use “birthparent,” or “biological parent”–pretty much everyone gets it, and I still feel it’s respectful. Actually, I think that I refer to T~ as N’s “Birth Mom” more than anything.

    BTW–I already told E., but Quinn is even cuter with his eyes open! I’m still praying that everything will go a lot faster than you think, and we’ll have him home for Christmas.

  6. E.

    Thought maybe I could add a bit of clarification to the whole mother/mom, father/dad thing. We’ve talked about the term first mom a lot and how the term “mom” specifically denotes more of that day-to-day-always-there kind of love and comfort, whereas mother is a bit more distant. This is why we find the whole “first mom” thing particularly bothersome because, though bio mothers are biologically the mother, they frequently have never been the “mom”. Does that make sense? So, no, we don’t refer to Tank Boys birth mother as his “Mother” and me as his “mom”, but that is, I’m pretty sure, where M. is coming from when he makes that distinction. Plus, in his case, hew grew up knowing both of his male parental “figures” (if you want to give the sperm donor that much credit), so in his case it is a more logical distinction.

  7. Mixed Nuts

    I was wondering if you would weigh in (especially since I had never noticed you NOT using birthmother). I had also left the post-election moniker out on purpose. I thought I would let him look like the sensitive, incredibly enlightened male. ;o)

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