Separating industry from individuals can be difficult at times. I’ve been lucky enough to have quite a few amazing adoptive mom friends who truly “get it.” They get it isn’t about them and what they had originally planned for their family. Infertility and adoption changed all that. Like I’ve said, there are instances in which adoption may be the best course of action. In these instances, it is so very important that adoptive parents truly “get it.” Adoptive parents should never break promises to a first family, they should constantly be making it a point to educate themselves and learn about adult adoptees and how they feel, and everything they do in regards to being and adoptive parent should be done with genuine sincerity. Any underlying fertility problems they may have had should not lay unresolved with adoption as the cure for their infertility. Infertility is an emotional journey that ends in heartbreak and shattered dreams and should be dealt with appropriately before pursuing adoption. An adopted child should not be left with the responsibility of fulfilling your dreams that were robbed from you by infertility. Adoption is not the same thing as becoming a family the biological way and unless you understand this and deal with it you will be categorized into “adoptive parents who DON’T get it.”
I remember hearing a story some time back. I cannot remember every detail but do remember the general gist of it. A birthmother told of an adoptive mother who truly got it. I can say that, in this case, adoption was truly the best course of action for the infant involved. But, even though the adoptive mother had every logical reason in the book to go back on her word and not have the birthmother in her life (and even I wouldn’t have begrudged her for it), she never broke her promises. She was the one showing up at her house every morning, bringing groceries, forcing her to face reality and change her life so she could move forward into positive changes within her life. She never gave up on her and the birthmother became a better person for it. This is an adoptive mom who truly gets it. And her child will grow up all the better because of it.
And then I run into gems like
this article on adoption.com. (**EDIT** Since posting this the article was taken down. -Thank you adoption.com- I am supplying screenshots of it so you can have a reference point when reading this blog post. See screen shots below.) This is an adoptive mother who truly DOESN’T get it. At all. The article, “5 Things You Can Do to Show Your Adopted Parents You Love Them”, is full of old school thinking that doesn’t take into consideration that the adoptee is an individual of their own with their own thoughts and feelings. Every one of the “5 things” screams, “You owe me, that’s why.” The adoptee is, apparently, obligated to call at least once a week to prove their love and thankfulness for being adopted by their adoptive parents. They are also required to thank adoptive parents for “hanging in there” through bad behavior times (like all kids and teens go through). I mean, they could have just returned them, right? Adoptees are also required to thank their adoptive parents for being adopted. I don’t know about you, but no one should have to live their lives in an eternal state of thankfulness and being indebted to the people who adopted them (and have to actively do the things listed in the article to prove it) just to stroke the feathers of the adoptive parent because they never dealt with their insecurities or issues surrounding their infertility. Sorry, no one owes you anything. If these children “fulfilled your dreams” (also a heavy burden to place on someone, being the dream fulfiller) then maybe you owe them.
This mentality still runs rampant, as is wholeheartedly apparent in this article. Adoptees must forever be helpless needy children that should just be thankful someone wanted them at all. How sick is that? Are non-adopted persons required to thank their parents for these things? Imagine that a prerequisite to showing your parents love was to constantly thank them for your life. It’s absurd. Until adoptive parents TRULY get it, all of them, we will still have adults running around bearing the burden of the damage that was done to them for their entire lives because of choices adults made for them before they were born or when they were small children. Choices they had no control over. And, to this day, they still are made to be subservient, with no control, over their own lives. It’s a shame and it’s just one more thing to add to the list of wrongdoings many adoptees must suffer.
So, to all the adoptive parents out there, here is a list of things that you can do to be one of the ones who “get it.”
1. Do not burden your child with being the “dream come true.” Any mistakes he/she may make in their lives will automatically be a reflection of how they have failed you. Humans make mistakes, lots of them. Don’t let your expectations lead to broken self confidence and lowered self worth.
2. Do not break promises made to the first family or the child. Your child will, one day, find out and will be put in the awkward position, and impossible one, of dealing with the emotions that come with that. Being torn between the family you have always known and the feelings of betrayal to them or their first family (even when no one is actively making them “choose between”) will be difficult for them.
3. Deal with your infertility before adopting. Resolve the emotional issues behind it. If you are looking to replace the child you could not conceive and bear with the child you are adopting, DON’T. No one wants to be a second class replacement or the constellation prize. That child will grow up feeling that way, even if you never specifically say this, and it will be reflected in the way he/she thinks about themselves.
4. Do not make your child’s curiosity about their roots and biological history (even if they desire a relationship with their biological families) turn into a disloyalty against you. If you have properly dealt with your issues before adopting, this shouldn’t be too challenging. There is no need for competition and turning it into that, even subtly, could make your child choose to wait until your death before pursuing their first family. Do not be the person responsible for robbing them of those years with their siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, other mother and other father.
5. Always be honest. Never keep secrets. Sometimes things need to be presented at an age appropriate level, but do not lie, no matter what. Your child will remember that you lied and will trust you a little less (or not at all).
6. Do not wait for you child to bring up talking about his/her adoption. If you are not actively bringing up the subject, your child gets the unspoken message that it is taboo to talk about it. Even if you child desired to openly talk about it and ask questions, they may not do so because you have not been actively bringing the subject up. Your child will then suppress this curiosity and it will come out in other, unhealthy, ways.
7. You are owed nothing. Accept it, get used to it. Do not live your life, and the life of your child, expecting gratitude and thanks all the time for being a “hero” and adopting. One, you are not some kind of hero, and two, it isn’t fair to your child/children at ALL.
SCREENSHOTS OF ORIGINAL ARTICLE ON ADOPTION.COM