“The adoptive mother believes she is the real mother because she is the one who got up in the middle of the night and was there for the child in sickness and health. The birth mother believes she is the real mother because she went through nine months of sculpting the child within her body and labored to bring it forth into the the world.”
Adoptive parents don’t love their children the same way biological parents do. That’s an uncomfortable notion for a lot of people, but it’s true. We don’t love our children the same way. We can’t. That’s not who our children are. Our children come to us from someone else. They were conceived without our knowledge or participation.
In October 2010 I met a little boy for the first time in an “orphanage” in Kampala. He had been there for just under a month and he was the saddest baby I had ever met. I prayed when I got home that God would do a miracle and that they would find his parents, because I just felt that he was missing somebody very, very special. When I returned to the “orphanage” a week later – he was still there. I was so shocked that his family hadn’t come to pick him up, because I was convinced there had been a huge mistake and that they were bound to have found him! I had lots to learn. Many people think that “orphanages” are full of orphans (double orphans with no other known family), or that they were pit latrine babies (thrown in make shift toliets) or that they had been abused and removed from their families by the authorities. I didn’t know that children could end up in “orphanages” because of mistakes, poor processes and lack of record keeping or because of miscarriages of justice. This photograph was taken the second time I met the little boy. I was Read more
From Radio Europe and as part of the series of successful Russian adoptions
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt make it look easy. They adopt kids from all corners of the world and the media broadcasts images of perfect Kodak moments. They’d have you believing families bond and blend instantaneously.
They don’t. Not always. Not in my experience, or in the experience of many others. Sometimes the road to loving your adopted daughter is long and twisted and scary. You know something is wrong – but is it her? Is it you? You drown in shame and confusion, hiding your feelings from the world. It can’t possibly be that you’ve gone to the other end of the world to get this baby and you’re not bonded after a month, six months, two years.
Kiddo, it’s another holiday season, another one that separates us from the one where you lived within me, and were just an unknown to the world. It’s another season where I will, when the presents are laid out, and the stockings all filled, sit beside the tree and cry, letting my heart break in the silent house, where no one can see or hear. The music of this season reminds me of a simpler time. The crunching snow reminds me of the day I saw your parents and their profile. The nipping cold reminds me of how my tears felt when I realized that this was all going to happen, despite my reservations. The lights on the tree remind me of all the seasons that have passed with me missing you, and you not knowing me. Every year, I hope that there is a day where I can hug you, and wish you a merry Christmas. One day. They keep telling me there is another day. Yet, the fact that it’s not this year, just means another part of my heart has fallen away, and my hope wanes thinner. So this year, and for every year to come until the Read more
Very soon we’re reuniting with our son’s birth mother (“J”) and her parents. Rather than continuing to have nearly the same conversation with various and sundry family and friends (eight times and counting), I’ve decided to post this FAQ for easy reference by all interested parties. Q: Why are you going to meet with them? A: Because we told them we would. We discussed it before “J” left the hospital; it’s important to her, and therefore, important to us. Q: What does she want from you? She must want something…? A: She wants respect. A warm hello. Probably a burp cloth when she holds him. Q: Aren’t you afraid? A: Most definitely. I’m afraid of what college will cost when our kids finish high school. I’m afraid of finding a lump. I’m afraid of reaching under the house to clear out some leaves and feeling a snake wrap around my fingers. I’m afraid of being home alone when there are Dove bars in the freezer. That’s what I’m afraid of. Q: Why does she want to see him? A: Uhhh… well, I’ve never carried another human being in my body, but from what I understand, there’s a bit of a Read more
May 2 — Early A.M. Emergency Room Visit Our family’s last 12 or so hours provide a good lesson for families who have recently (or will soon) bring their child home from a Russian orphanage. As Hunter and I were driving home from baseball practice yesterday, I heard odd squeaking noises from the passenger seat. I glanced over and saw him plugging his nose and blowing. Then his ear would squeak. “What’s going on buddy?” I asked. “Oh, my ear’s just flugged up” he said. I had to smile to myself. “Flugged up” is one of our family words. It originated when Katya flooded the toilet by plugging it with an entire roll of toilet paper. She came out to the living room. “Ooops, I flugged up the toilet.” Flooded/plugged, hence flugged. We were left with having to shrug our shoulders, clean up the mess, and de-flug the toilet. And add a new word to our family’s lexicon. Anyway, so Hunter’s ear was flugged up. We’re approaching the eighth anniversary of his adoption later this month. I’ve learned over the years that an off-hand comment from my son about physical discomfort usually needs to be multiplied by a factor of Read more
After giving birth and relinquishment, the birthmother goes back to “normal” life, but nothing would ever be the same normal again. That was always the bit of irony about adoption. You went through this experience, this incredible perceived “sacrifice” and certainly heartache for the ultimate plan to not have your life changed, but no one tells you how unavoidable that is. You can’t have a baby and place it for adoption without the experience changing your very being. Yet, that is how it is sold. Adoption is supposed to remove the actuality of being a mother and having a child, but you DO have a child and you DO become a mother. Just that now, no one knows, and you can’t act like it, and you get treated all the same, but you’re not. I wasn’t the same. I couldn’t be. For one, my body was now the body of a mother. I had stretch marks galore on my now deflated belly. Granted I could get back into the coveted jeans and wear a belt again, but for anyone with any intelligence could glance at the roadmap of my life experience riddled on my midriff and know that I had Read more
“Double Dipper.” That’s a phrase I encountered once on an another adult adoptee’s blog in reference to people like me who have more than one connection to adoption; specifically, adoptees who adopt, adoptees who place, and first parents who later adopt. It was not intended as a compliment. My particular category, adoptees who adopt, must seem incomprehensible to some adult adoptees and first parents. I am not someone who holds a roses-and-sunshine view of adoption. I have experienced the pain of adoption from my own side of things, and I am not blind to the pain on the first family side of the equation. I see the need for reform in all areas of adoption. I believe that family preservation should be a higher societal priority than it currently is. So, what would possess someone like me to affiliate myself with an institution I criticize? I can tell you that I was drawn to adoption in part because of these things, because I believed my awareness would make me a better adoptive parent than those of the past who held an oversimplified view. I could justify myself by explaining how my position as an adoptive parent is different than that Read more