The other week, I was in a medical appointment and making small talk with the nurse. I happened to mention that I was coaching my daughter’s soccer team. Later in the appointment, while giving her my medical history, I told the nurse that I endured through three years of fertility treatments. Remembering that I had a daughter, she said, “Oh, so the treatments must have been successful!” Quickly, I responded, “No, I’m an adoptive mother to my three children.” She cocked her head and said in a sympathetic voice, “Aww! So you weren’t able to have any little babies of your own?”
Over my years in the adoption field, I have heard one consistent fear from prospective adoptive parents of domestic children. They are afraid that their adopted child will one day want to leave them and move in with their biological family. With open adoptions becoming more common, adoptive children know enough about their biological parents, that this is a natural fear of parents. The thinking is along the lines of, “If I maintain a relationship with my child’s birth family, then why wouldn’t my child want to leave when they aren’t getting their way? When I say, ‘No, you cannot go to that party at Michael’s.’ why wouldn’t my child say, ‘Then I’ll go live with my birth mother because she’d let me go!’”
It’s the holiday season and that means for most, it’s time for gatherings with co-workers, friends and family. This is the time when you can forget all of your troubles and be merry, right? Not always true. If you are just beginning the adoption process or waiting to adopt, the holiday season can be difficult. First of all, the holidays are child-focused. That means commercials, songs, and shows are geared around children and their parents. Second, at get-togethers people may ask you uncomfortable questions you don’t want to answer. “So when are you two going to start your family?” “How much longer is your adoption wait?”
In the news when you read about adoption, it’s usually the sad and horrific stories featured. Examples would include the rare cases where birth parents gain parental rights back to their child they had already placed for adoption, where stressed-out adoptive parents decide to beat and kill their difficult child, or when a couple was swindled out of thousands of dollars by a adoption lawyer. These are the stories which make prospective adoptive parents cringe because they know this is how their family and friends are learning about adoption.
I recently began a job as Community Moderator for Adoptive Families Circle, which is the online community for Adoptive Families magazine. I am very excited to have this opportunity to help others in their adoption journey. Adoption is my favorite topic, and helping others who will or have adopted is my true passion. I thought I had plenty of enough knowledge to bring to the table in order to assist the online community. Wow, was I wrong.
There is much more adoption information out there in cyber land than I had imagined. My mind is overflowing with all the resources available to those researching adoption, those in the process or those who have adopted. When I was pursuing my adoptions, there wasn’t nearly this much information available and I was still overwhelmed. It’s no wonder the new people who attend my monthly adoption support group sometimes have no clue how to begin their adoption journey. It is very easy to be confused and intimidated by the abundance of online adoption information available.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read yet another fictional book about adoption. Some of the recent portrayals I’ve looked into have seemed overly dramatic in order to make for a good story line. However, a friend who has been part of my support system through my three adoptions read this book and highly recommended it. She said it gave her great insight into why birth mothers may place their child for adoption. Then I read an excerpt of the book in a recent issue of Adoptive Families magazine it sounded intriguing. Late one night I decided to pick up the book and only read a few pages. It was 2 AM and 165 pages later when I forced myself to put the book down in order to get some sleep. I happily completed the novel the next night.
“I don’t know why they have to do a criminal background check on you.” “Doesn’t it take years to adopt a healthy baby?” “Can’t you just go to Haiti and adopt one of the children from the earthquake?” “Why must the birth mother pick you? Shouldn’t you pick her, since you’re paying the money?” “Why are you wanting to ask the birth parents their opinion on baby names? He’ll be your baby!” “How come you still have social worker visits, after you have your child?” “Why do you want to remain in contact with the birth family? Aren’t you worried about confusing your child?” “Why does it cost so much to adopt?”
Some of these questions may have been ones you’ve heard, or eventually will hear as an adoptive or prospective adoptive parent. While sometimes these questions come from strangers approaching you at the drug store, odds are the most surprising and brazen questions will come from your loved ones. It would be easy to give an annoyed look at a stranger and simply walk away. But if you’re preparing your Thanksgiving meal and your Dad asks, “How will you know if the biological mom is lying, by saying she hasn’t done drugs? Haven’t most of them had drinks during their pregnancies?” it is a lot harder and even less desirable to walk away and avoid answering.
Recently I went to see the movie “Mother and Child” with hopes of viewing a positive and enlightening movie about adoption. The movie has three main story lines which eventually merge together. One story involves a woman, played by Annette Bening, who placed a newborn girl for adoption almost thirty years prior and has been haunted by it since. The second story is about her daughter, played by Naomi Watts, who was placed for adoption and how she is coping with her life. The third story follows a prospective adoptive couple, attempting to adopt a newborn. It focuses mainly on the wife, played by Kerry Washington, and her transition from infertility to adoption.
So was the movie a positive one that I would highly recommend to those in the adoption community? No. Was it still entertaining enough that I’d recommend it with the caveat that the adoption parts are not accurate? Not exactly. I don’t think I was alone in not fully enjoying the movie as when it ended I heard more than one wife around me turn to their husband and say, “I’m sorry I brought you to this.”
As you research adoption, it’s normal to have some fear. Some of the fear could be in regards to something tangible, like the amount of money an adoption costs. Or you may be afraid of the entire adoption process because you don’t know yet what the necessary steps are. You could even have a strong fear of an adoption topic before having all the facts. An example of this would how prospective adoptive parents may be afraid of a potential relationship with a child’s birth mother.
At my recent Adoption Support Group meeting, this specific topic came up. One woman bravely admitted that she wished she could just get a baby and have the birth mother disappear from the picture. At first that sounds may sound surprising and a little cold-hearted. But at some point, didn’t most of us who pursued domestic adoption have this exact same thought?
So if you are going to adopt, are you ready to take some risks? Sure there are the obvious risks like selecting an agency or picking a country to adopt from. But what about the smaller risks which you may not be expecting? It’s impossible to be prepared for ever adoption situation which may arise as every adoption is unique. But it’s not a bad idea to reflect upon some possible scenarios where you may have to risk money, your heart or when you first meet your child.