All month long we have seen this hashtag floating around social media – #flipthescript. It is a call for solidarity of all adoptees to shift the focus of National Adoption Month back to the adoptee and their thoughts and feelings in regards to adoption. Until now the only voices that are really heard are those of the adoptive parents. National Adoption Day, within National Adoption Month, is the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Traditionally, adoptions are finalized, in court, in mass numbers in “celebration” of adoption. So, yeah, pretty focused on the adoptive parents’ point of view. It is certainly a time for them to celebrate because they have legally obtained the permanent right to parent the adoptee.
If one would listen, really listen, to adult adoptees, people would understand how torn they can be on the celebration of the loss of their natural family. Yes, they gained a new family, but the reasons they gained this new family are because of something that isn’t so great within their natural family (whatever it may be). Like I’ve said before, adoption always starts with a loss. In order to be adopted you have to have lost your entire natural family and the genetic history and heritage that comes with it. That’s a pretty big loss, no matter what you’ve gained. Making a national spectacle out of this and cheering about how great it is can certainly be insensitive and upsetting to many adoptees. Especially given the struggles so many have with their identity and where they fit in. And let’s not forget the millions of adoptees who aren’t even allowed to have access to their history via closed adoption records. Still feeling celebratory?
So, in rebellion of this one-sided view on National Adoption Month #flipthescript was created and adoptees were encouraged to speak out with their truths, their experiences. One quick search on Google will show you what they are saying. The general consensus is that they love their adoptive families but are sick of the issues they have being silenced or ignored. Some go further to left (“I hate my adoptive family and I’m seriously screwed up from my adoption”) and some go further to the right (“I love my adoptive family and that I was adopted but I wish I could have my original birth certificate”). Just like no two people will ever feel the exact same way in every facet about a given subject, so it is with adoptees as well. However, they do have a right to have their voices heard (let’s face it, they are the sole reason adoption exists) and I’m glad they are doing so. It’s about time.
Even though I am so glad and thankful for this role reversal during National Adoption Month, I can’t help but feel like us birthmothers are getting grouped into the same category as adoptive parents. As if our voices have been heard this whole time as well. They simply haven’t. The voices that you do hear, from birthmothers expressing how great adoption is and how anyone not in perfect circumstances should really consider adoption, are really from the industry themselves while using these women. I know it is really hard to understand, believe me, I do. But in order to give something so precious up sometimes you really have to believe that it was an unbelievably great thing (adoption) in order not to fall to pieces. These women have had their horns tooted over and over again by agencies. They have been given validation that their adoption choice was the right choice (even while pregnant and still considering adoption) and they hold tight to it to save their sanity. In the process they are victims as well and the true voices of birthmothers are NOT being heard.
I keep hearing “No one put a gun to your head and made you give your baby up.” I have seen this sentiment at least four times this week on one form of social media or another. This comment makes me very angry. No, no one put a gun to my head. But, like a fellow birthmom friend so eloquently pointed out, they did put a metaphorical one to my baby’s head. In essence, we were convinced that not choosing adoption would be the end of a happy life for our children. We were simply not good enough and could never provide what a set of adoptive parents could. We would be sentencing our children to an uncertain life of poverty and shame. And so, we made our choice, which was really no choice at all. No one ever educated us about issues adult adoptees could have (which is why I am so thankful for #flipthescript) and no one ever told us that all the reasons we were making this choice – unemployment, financial problems, marital status (not being married), lack of support, health issues, fear of being an inadequate parent, homelessness – were also problems adoptive parents were not immune from. No one is immune from them. Anyone can lose a job, become homeless, get divorced, commit a crime, become seriously ill, lose their house, become abusive or neglectful, get into an accident, develop a substance abuse problem, or die. Including adoptive parents. They are just people like me and you. No one told us this.
And while I am so very excited to see all of these adoptees finally finding their voices and speaking up, and being LISTENED to, I keep wondering when us birthmothers will be heard. When we will be taken seriously. Instead we are called crazy, angry, bitter birthmothers who regret a choice that we made willingly while no one held a gun to our head. We are the bad guys. Yet, if our voices would be heard and listened to, since it is ultimately us who make the “choice” for our children to be adopted, we could lessen the amount of adoptees there are in the world. Lessen the amount of trauma and hurt and identity issues in people. We could prevent others from making a choice of adoption based on temporary issues. Adoptive parents are always going to want to adopt. And I understand this, and there is a need for adoption in some situations, but expectant mothers don’t have to become birthmothers. And children don’t have to be separated from their families and become adoptees.
As the end of the month draws near I ask you to think about this. All of these adoptees that are flipping the script are being listened to on such a mass scale. They are provoking change and I applaud them. Now, how much more powerful could this movement be if the birthmothers were also heard? We would be twice as powerful.
I hope this post doesn’t sound like a “why aren’t you listening to me?” rant or whine. It isn’t intended to be. I think that there are 2 parties that suffer forever in an adoption. That is the adoptee and the birthmother (sometimes birthfather and birthfamily as well). It’s time we band together and let our voices be heard.
I do not celebrate adoption or how it came into my life. What I will celebrate this month is the courageous people who have found their voices. And their voices are pushing back against all the happily ever after smiling faces of the industry. Their voices challenge people to re-think how things are being done. THAT is something to celebrate.