Category: Adoption


Last weekend, I experienced one of those moments where someone says something that just gets my blood boiling, my body shaking, and builds up an almost irresistable urge to scream.  One of those”innocent” comments about adoption that reminds me about the inherent prejudices that still plague the adoption world – and no matter how many times I hear this bullshit – it never diminishes my surprise at people’s naive perceptions.

So, back to the story… I was sitting by the campfire, mostly listening to conversations being had by others.  I was tagging along with a family who had gone camping together.  One of the grown children was talking about her 9 year old daughter, and how her daughter had decided she wanted 4 children.  She wanted 2 biological children, and then she wanted to adopt 2 children.  Of course, I’m telling her that’s really cool.  Then  the father of the grown woman, the 9 year old’s grandfather, said “Why would you want to do that?”  My ears pricked up at that – and I said “What do you mean?”  He clarified that he didn’t understand why she would want to adopt when she could “have her own children.”  Again, I said “What do you mean?  Why would you say that?”  So, he responded, “Well, I believe that everyone should raise their “own” children.  Not someone else.”  I sat there unable to say anything for a minute – with my mouth hanging open and shock on my face.  I finally said to him “Well, that really isn’t an option for a lot of families.  Do you know how many parents in Haiti have to sit and watch their children die of starvation, and of disease, while they waste away in poverty?  They choose adoption because they have no other choice.  They choose adoption because they love their children and want them to live.  It’s not like they are being tossed aside.  It is truly a matter of life and death.”  He looked at me and finally said “Yes, you have a point.”

I was furious.  I ended up having to walk away so that I didn’t keep pushing him and making the situation even more awkward.  Eventually, he realized that he had upset me, and he came to find me.  He asked me if he had upset me, and I told him he did.  I always appreciate a good apology, but this is where the situation actually went from bad to worse.  In trying to explain his comment, he told me “I only have 1 grandchild.  I want more.  I want great-grandchildren.  That’s why I made the comment I did, because I want more grandkids/great-grandkids.”  I looked at him, and I said “That is the part I don’t understand.  There are so many ways to build a family – and if your granddaughter decides to adopt – they would still be your grandkids!”  He didn’t seem to understand this concept, and kept talking about how he needed great grandkids.  So, I told him “I think that if she does adopt, you will realize at that point that you love that child just as much as any of your family members, and you will realize that there is NO difference in the way you feel.”  His response was “I am a very loving person, and I’m sure I would love them.”  Again, we just had to drop the subject.

Ok.. there are a few things that I am very sensitive about.   Adoption happens to be one.  I have had so many experiences that show people’s prejudice around adoption – and they don’t even know that they are doing it.  It’s like this situation – where it was so easy for him to make a distinction as if he couldn’t love someone who joined the family by adoption – and he had no idea why that would be offensive to me.  It shocks me every single time I am faced with this sort of situation.

My children have been anything but “easy”.  They have been plagued with so many emotional/mental difficulties because of their history.   It’s been rough.  But I love them with such an intensity that it is indescribable – and I would never/have never regretted my decision on how to build my family.  I look at them and they are my kids.  In every single way and in our relationship and my love for them is in no way influenced by the fact that we do not share DNA.  I couldn’t love them more no matter what.  Why is it so hard for people to understand that concept?  Why is it that blood relations seem to be the “superior” connection/relationship by so many people?

I could go on about this forever… but I will end my rant with this.  I am completely aware and accepting of the fact that adoption is not an answer or a solution for everyone.  However, for those of you out there that have not had experience in adoption, and for which it wouldn’t be an answer for you – please understand/accept/realize that for those of us for which adoption has touched are lives are no different than you.  Our kids are no different, and our relationships with them are no different.

 

 

By this point, I was s

To My Children

To My Children

I did not birth you,

We don’t share each other’s blood,

But each other’s hearts.

To My Daughter

My Daughter,

You are an inspiration to me.  You have been through so much.  More than most adults will ever experience in their lives.  Yes, you have struggled.  WE have struggled, in our relationship to each other at times.  But you have never ceased to amaze me with your tenacity.  Your strength.  Your resiliency.

You are so wise.  Sometimes, I feel as if I am speaking to someone who has lived a hundred lives.  You are more intuitive and perceptive that most people I know.   I learn from you every single day.  You are my inspiration.

Because of you, I continue to strive to be a better person.  I continue to fight my own demons, continue my search to become a healthier person, better person – because of you.

I never want you to lose your strength.  Your passion.  Your sense of rightness and fairness.  You are an amazing child, and you are going to be an even more amazing woman.  You make me proud.  You are the best thing that has ever happened to me – and I only hope that I can give you 1/2 as much as you have given me.

I love you.

Your Mom

I just finished reading “Raising Abel” by Carolyn Nash.  It’s a true story about a woman who fostered, and then adopted, a young boy who had been subjected to horrible abuse by his birth parents.  I loved this book.  It was hard to read, since what this boy went through was so intense.  But, it is an honest story about the hardships of raising children who have been traumatized.  All the acting out that Abel does is so very close to my own experiences with my daughter.   Definately worth reading!

Something I have not talked a lot about is my children.  They have been through so much in their young lives, and it has definately taken a toll on them.  They were adopted from a 3rd world country, where they suffered malnutrition and neglect (not because the orphanage didn’t care, but simply didn’t have the resources to provide more than the very minimum to keep a child alive).  After being adopted, they were brought into a home, my home, where there was absolutely no stability.  We moved several times due to my ex-husband’s volatile job situation.  They were raised with a father who was abusive to both them, as well as me.  His temper and emotional and physical abuse has left scars on us all.  In addition, I was terrified and unable to stand up for them for several years.  After I finally took a stand – they went thru a couple of years of a really nasty divorce, and subsequent custody battle.  After all of that, they endured the suicide of my fiance, who had become a father figure to them.  All in all, they have had a very shitty life.

My daugther has struggled since she was first brought home from the orphanage at 18 months.  First, with physical delays.  Then, with emotional and behavoiral challenges.  She is now in 5th grade and has never been in a “mainstream” classroom.  She has bounced around from self-contained “behavoiral learning” classrooms inside a regular school, to day treatment programs.  Last year, she entered a residential facility where she lived for 5 months, along with a stint in the pyschiatric unit of the hospital.  She is diagnosed with PTSD, attachment disorder, depression, and generalized anxiety.  She has been extremely violent in both the home and the school environments, which has resulted in several adults (including myself) ending up at the hospital with broken bones, stitches, dislocated jaws, etc.   There have been several years where I could not even leave the house with her; the schools could not safely keep her in class.

Last July, she discharged from the residential facility.  She discharged 2 days after I was granted full legal custody, and the majority of physical custody.  Since then, her progress has continued to amaze me.  She is still at a day treatment program, but it has been several months since she has had any “unsafe” behavoirs at home.  I can take her on trips to the grocery store now, without fear of her trying to jump out of the moving car; or becoming violent at the store, or running away.  I can take her on vacations, and know that although she may have moments of grumpiness, she will be completely safe (as will everyone else).

She has not been able to be in any extracurricular activities in years; and each time she was involved in the past; she was removed due to behavoirs.  Tonight, she started a gymnastics class.  I decided that she had improved to the point where we could try this again.  I sat watching her in her hour long class, with tears glimmering in my eyes.  Out of pride.  Out of pure fascination and contentment.  Out of a love and joy that has weathered everything thrown at us.  She was focused.  She was on-task.  She listened to instructions and never once behaved in any way that was even slightly inappropriate.  She did fantastic and had an amazing time.  My God – how far we have come in such a short time!  This child who has experienced more trauma that most adults will EVER see; who has struggled and fought and climbed her way out of an abyss so great that some thought she would never emerge – can now GO TO GYMNASTICS.  Some may not be able to comprehend how great of an achievement this is.  They may take these things for granted.

But, tonight, I was reminded that no matter how hard life has been – there IS so much to be thankful for.  So many things have settled into normal, predictable, SAFE behavior and we ARE getting better, day by day.  No matter what, I have finally begun to provide a safe and nurturing environment for my kids, and for myself.  And, I am grateful for that.

Why Is Adoption So Often Seen as “The Last Option”?

One of the questions that irritates me the most when people find out that I have adopted is “Oh – couldn’t you have children of your own?”  This statement is supremely frustrating to me for two reasons.  One – these ARE my “real” children.  Two – why do people automatically assume that because you adopted, it was because you couldn’t get pregnant?  Why do so many people assume that adoption is the last option that someone pursues when all else has failed?

I am in no way assuming that adoption is for everyone.  Although personally I do not understand the importance of having biological ties to your family – I know some people do.  What’s more surprising to me is that this view seems to flow over into the adoption community at times as well.

I hear often of families exhausting all of their fertility treatments, and finally making the decision to adopt. I have also heard many times how difficult of a decision it is and how much mourning was involved in accepting infertility.  I suppose I could also understand this to an extent.  But recently I read an article of a woman who continue to mourn her infertility after building her family by adoption. She talks of not being able to attend baby showers, and how she doesn’t think she needs to “find closure”.   I don’t mean to be insensitive – but what message are we sending to our adopted children when we are placing biology in front of our relationship to them?  When we can’t rejoice in another’s growing family, while we are families of our own?

Family is family.  It doesn’t matter how this family is formed – the bond is dependent on the relationships you build with those you love… not blood…not shared DNA.

My kids are my kids.  That’s it to me. End of story.