December 30, 2013

Two Crazy Things People Say to Adoptees

Today, I’m sharing two of the least favorite things I've personally heard as an adoptee, and why they have the distinction of landing on my least favorite list:

Photo Credit: Daquella Manera, Flickr
 “Your mother gave you life. That was all that was important. Just forget about everything else... whatever else you think you are missing out on that's so important. Life is all that matters. And, she gave it to you.”

I’m pro-life, as anybody reading here for a while, already knows.

Pro-life means just that -- life.

Many people are pro-birth, not pro-life. 

For such individuals, it's an extremely high priority to get kids safely out of the womb, but whatever injustices they have to go through after they get here are a moot point. 

Regarding the need for adoption reform, someone recently said to me, “Deanna, adoption is really okay the way it is. Whatever happens to these adoptees, it'll be alright, because children are resilient…” 

Seriously? Kids are resilient, so………..we can do whatever we want to them?  

Is that what Jesus would do?

Life is not birth.

Life is life.

If  life was birth, there would be the "Life is Birth" store instead of  the"Life is Good" store.

Truth be told, birth is painful and messy.

I have a lot of bloody pictures from popping my own three kids out, to prove it.

And birth is required to ultimately bring life, but birth is not life.

Jesus said that He came to give us life and life to the full.

Life is what you experience once birth gets you here.

Was this “life to the full” Jesus had in mind making sure children get safely out their mother’s wombs and then stripping them of their human rights?

Do we as a society care about the lives of adoptees? 

By the archaic laws we allow to remain in place and even fight to keep there, preventing them from being equal under the law, it appears not.

And now onto the second piece of cray-cray we are going to unpack today:

Photo Credit: Herkie, Flickr

“Once you were born, the rest was up to you. Nobody owes you anything. Not your natural mother, your adoptive parents, not the world.   After you came out of the womb, it was all up to you.

A baby comes out of the womb, vulnerable and powerless.

A baby is...a baby. This may be the most profound thing I say today.

An infant is unable to speak on her behalf.

I am the rightful owner of basic information about myself, but was powerless as a baby to demand it.

Children do need adults to advocate for them.

Being the adult in charge means doing the right thing, not just doing what's good for you.

When closed adoption adoptees are children, choices are made for them. Among these decisions is the altering of the factual information about their identity, replacing the truth with lies, and then sealing the documents.

None of this is best for the child - it is simply the desire of the adults who surround them because it makes life less complicated for the grown ups.

But doing what's best for children is not always convenient for adults.
It may be downright complex.

When closed adoption adoptees grow up, they are still denied basic information about who they are, where they come from, their medical history and so much more.

In Rare Instances Children May Speak Up

My friend Renee Lynne Davies, an adoptee,  often tells the story of how she repeatedly ran away from home, from the time she was a young child.  She shares:

“When I was just a little girl, I used to pack my swimsuit and my Breyer horses. I would climb out my bedroom window, go through the backyards and out onto the next street over. A neighbor would always see me with my suitcase, walking toward the park and call my adoptive parents. One of them would get in the car and come get me.  They would ask me, “Where do you think you’re going?” I would answer, “To be with my mother.”
My adoptive parents would tell me, “Get in the car! We’re going home!”

Sometimes they would have to chase me.

Sometimes I just got in the car.

I would always get a beating back at home.

Photo Credit: Dawn Imagination Stables, Flickr

Once, my adoptive father broke all the legs off my Breyer horses.

I only had four or five at the time.

I just taped all the legs back on with white medical tape.

Remember the white tape that you used to hold bandages on with?

But you know what?
I finally found my mother.
They weren’t able to stop me.

A few years ago, I was home and ran into the neighbor who lived behind us. She was the one who used to call my adoptive parents the most. She brought it up—how she remembered itty bitty me and my pink flower power suitcase..."

Renee openly shared the grief and loss she experienced with the separation from her mother, her adoption, and the intense desire to find her original family. Many adoptees share her feelings of significant loss, grief and disconnection, yet rarely do they have the courage as such young children, to speak it.

Verbalizing that you are hurting, or miss your natural parents -- who you can't even remember -- would not be received well in many adoptive homes. And the world at large has no understanding of this.

Can you envision any adopted child you personally know saying to their adoptive parents:

“I want to see my original papers, about who and where I came from..."

“I’m hurting about my adoption and need counseling for post-adoption issues." (Young adoptees don't even know what to call what they are feeling.)

"I want to see a face that looks something like mine..."

"I want to  feel connected to my background, to where I come from -- my heritage, and we never talk about it or celebrate it."

A child doesn’t say these kind of things, and if they did, they may face repercussions for it. 

As children, we couldn't speak up and say, "Hey's what you need to know about adoption..."

Nobody wants to listen to you until you're a grown up. 

Then we become grown ups and some of us dare to speak our truth and people say, "Why are you doing this? Why can't you just be grateful your mother gave you life?" 

Maybe we're speaking it now because we couldn't from a hospital bassinet.

As far as my choices as an adult – yes, you're right --  it’s all on me.

Which is exactly why I write here.