Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Confused, Need Help


For people who have OLDER ADOPTED KIDS and for ADULT ADOPTEES... I'm having real problems coming to grips with the idea of adoption -- how does an adopted person integrate her adopted family with her birth family. Does an adopted person ever get over that dissonance of coming from somewhere else -- and in this case another culture (which the child will, on some level, lose) and another race (which the child, on some level, will feel alienated from)and a birth mother a half-a-globe away, more imagined to her than real.

I've gotten so far into the experience of adult adoptees who feel "completed" by their birthfamily (some who are still on good terms with the adopted family, most who are not), that I'm beginning to feel that adoption is nothing more than a gamble.

I have a tremendous capacity to love an adopted child as my own. I have energy to do my best to compensate for not being raised Ethiopian, or even in an African-American family. I have energy to try to help, in my small way, to make Ethiopia better.

What I do not have the capacity for is to have the relationship with an adult child that I see many adult adoptees and their families having. I am so freaked about it that I feel it may be better not to "risk" the "experiment" of adoption at all.

I'm starting to side with the anti-adoption crowd. Their arguements are really starting to make sense. I'm even questioning the desire to have a third child by any means -- my wife and my unwillingness to play genetic roulette by getting pregnant over 35 was a major factor in chosing adoption in the first place.

Am I chicken? Am I having cold feet? Do I have a statistically skewed view of adoption? Or am I just being honest that I don't want to risk endangering my marriage and my bio kids' lives for a potentially bad outcome?


Brian (dad to 3) said...

1)The anti-adoption crowd makes since up until you ask them what the better alternative is. Adoption is not the best solution for the child(ren), it's just the best one available.

2)I'm not sure I can help you with the cold feet. I think adoption does factor into many children/adult's lives on a daily basis, but not all of them. The most vocal are the ones with the biggest problems. Then again, many parent/child relationships are strained and many times it's the parents' fault, so I figure I have quite a bit of control over them not hating me and it's far from "nothing more than a gamble".

Jon said...

You may have already stumbled upon this, but here's a great blog written by an adoptive mom of two korean born children.


She actively speaks out about adoption reform, and several of her readers are adoptees with incredible blogs of their own.

I'm in the process of trying to become more educated about all of the issues that lead to adoption as well as the after effects for all members of the triad.

I make it a point to pay attention to the perspectives of adult adoptees so that I might learn from their experiences.

I want to do right by my children, but it's difficult to determine how my children will actually feel as they come into their own identities.

I'm not really in a position to give you advice about your own situation, but I do applaud your willingness to confront these issues head on. I think that's what's going to enable you to be the best possible parent to your child.

-Samantha- said...

Wow, what happened my friend? To tell you the truth, it seems to me that you think way too much. You are overanalizing everything. Your marriage and your bio kids are not a sure thing regardless of welcoming a new little babe into your life or not. Being biologically linked does not guarantee that you are going to like eachother or enjoy eachother's company any more than enjoying or living someone who is not biologically linked to you. For all you know, your adopted child will become the one you are most compatible with...who knows.
Stop reading crazy stuf and trust yourself and your wife and ALL your children. You are like those crazy first time moms who read what to expect when you're expecting-they think their pregnancy is in the brink of ending every five minutes. Relax and enjoy the ride that life has to offer you.

Anonymous said...

I have felt very similar to what you wrote about, I have been on the other side of being the adopted child and "hating" my adoptive father at the time, now we have a really good relationship, and he is dear to me, I fear my birth born kids hating me as well, partially because at times I really did not like my parents, but I feel so compelled to adopt It consumes me and I feel at peace with bringing children into our family this way, and loving these dear kids with no parents, some of the people who are anti adoption are rightly so, my sister is pregnant and young and she was getting pressured big time to give up her baby for no reason other then being young with no father it was assumed that she would give up her baby, but she is keeping him, thank the Lord!

Anonymous said...

We've been struggling with similar feelings after exploring adult adoptees' perspectives. Some make great sense; others...well, I won't say it here. I agree that adoption is not the best alternative but it is often the ONLY alternative *at that moment.*

I've noticed that many of the adult adoptees (domestic) are in closed situations, or come from really abusive families. I feel more readily able to dismiss those situations as being too out of the norm to be relevant background for my situation. However, I think we have a lot to learn from the stories if we can sift through the anger (get ready for a wild ride). We have as much to learn from international adoptess who are coming of age.

So, the bigger question for me is: what can we learn and do differenly based on their experiences. I've got a long way to go on my learning curve, but so far I've decided:

1) I need to do more work integrating culture into my children's lives...more openness and communication will be necessary. It's going to be WORK, lots of work for me. I may have to move to a different neighborhood, go to a different church, find new physicians, and definitely surround my family with people "like" my kids.

2) Adoption reform, especially for domestic adoption, is needed.

3) Socioeconomic reform is desperately needed on a global scale. Read "The End of Povery" if you disagree. Such reform could result in a huge reduction in the availability of children for international adoption. Sucks for me personally, but I would get up on a table and shout 'hallelujah' if I knew that fewer people in the world were dying from lack of access to clean water or basic medication, that more families could afford to raise their children.

One of the biggest "catch 22" issues for me is that many Ethiopian children are not "orphans" by my standards: they have families, often families they know, who could and would want to raise them if those families had the cash OR in some circumstances if AIDS (b/c of death of one or both parents) wasn't such a social stigma. How do I reconcile that my children have living relatives who love them, but because of a long history of social, economic and political development, CAN'T raise them. So, then I fly halfway around the world to take them out of the only life they know and raise them as my own? And I know this is true because I get the chance to meet these relatives before I leave the country and give them a nifty map of where we'll be (as if they'll ever get to visit) and a generic photo of our "family"?

Holy cow, we've got a lot to digest and come to terms with. Maybe it's not so bad that wait times are increasing for ET adoption. Gives us time to think about things...

Carrie said...

My friend, I know exactly were you are in your adoption journey right now. The fear that you feel is real and you have real reasons to be afraid. Adoption, like everything in life, comes with no guarantees. You may adopt a child who has very real issues with being adopted or you may adopt a child who has none. Have you read “In Their Own Voices” by Rita Simmons? I found it to be a very realistic look at how transracially adopted children feel about their adoption and being raised in a white family. Many of these children had to deal with issues stemming from their adoption, but most still felt close to their adoptive parents. The people who had the most issues with their adoptive parents seemed to be the ones where there was “other” issues with the child/parent relationship besides adoption e.g., abuse, neglect, poor communication.

There is also an interesting conversation about similar thoughts and feels going on here… http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=670444

cathy said...

You wouldn't be a good parent if you didn't wrestle with these questions. But there are no guarantees in life--whether your children are bio or adopted, they can still wind up completely screwed up and hating you. I still stand firm on my podium of "How can you NOT adopt" given the alternatives for some children waiting for a home. We have adopted 3 times, and as our kids get older, they wrestle with it in their own ways. But I am doing my best and I trust they will too. I believe in my children and I believe that what I can tell them about their biological situations (we have a wealth of info) will help them come to grips with why adoption happened to them.

Umm 'Skandar said...

I would never rule out pregnancy at age 35! There is no magic line that separates risk free from risky pregnancies. Much of that is/was fed by the practice of offering women over 35 genetic counseling and certain tests but now that prenatal testing is so much less invasive, the new standard is to offer it to all women regardless of age. See todays NYT.

That said, I am nearly 40 and would like to have more kids (I have three already, last one after I was 35). I don't enjoy pg and the thought that there are kids that need a family appeals to me. BUT I am wary of entering into a process where I am feeding market forces that might encourage familes to surrender their child. (look at Guatamala). I would have a very hard time adopting a child from ET who still has a family. Why can't we create a world where they could raise that child.

What is the greater loss, to lose one's country, language, and culture? Or to have no family? It seems that right way to balance anger adult adoptee question is to seek out adults who lived their whole life in an orphanage. What can they add to this conversation?

abebech said...

These are great responses. Please do check out thirdmom's blog, and my own post in response.
I am pro-adoption reform, pro-open records, do believe that children are best served by being raised in healthy families of origin, yet I feel very passionately that we did the right thing by our daughter, and will do so again by another child BECAUSE we've considered all these angles, listened to those very important voices, gave it all serious consideration and decided as we did. I also realize that doesn't mean she'll think we did the right thing when she's old enough to decide. But she'll know we did what we believed was the best thing, with our hearts full of love for her. Isn't that what most parents do?

jen said...

I am really glad you asked this question - not because I have any answers but because I carry the same questions daily.

One thing I have considered, along with a lot of what has already been said here is that our children will grow up in a very different world than the adopted children coming of age. There are gazillions of books for us parents to read, there are studies that show what worked and what didn't, there are many more adoption communities and support groups, there are even more inter-racial relationships (marriages, adoptions, etc.) than twenty years ago. That's not to say that we have come so far that we don't need to work HARD, but it is to say that our children will have a different background than the children who are adult adoptees now.

So whether it is right or not, I can't say. But whether or not it is good for a child to be raised in a family, I have to believe yes.

Julie said...

I think the anger many adult adoptees have is a result of a line of thinking their parents' generation had toward international adoption (and adoption in general). Adoptive parents did not try (for the most part) to include their children's culture and did not address the issue of race. Some adoptees were even made to feel grateful for being "rescued" by their parents. Of course these are all generalizations, but awareness of the importance of one's birth culture and race are things that we as adoptive parents are only now starting to deal with in a healthy and constructive way. My thought (and hope) is the newest generation of adoptees will not be as angry as some of the current adult adoptees.

Swerl said...

Thanks everyone for responding!

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