On Giving Them Back

My last post, really the conversation with a first mom that I had that triggered it, is one that I know I'll be pondering for a long time, and I'll also be writing more about the things Robin said.

But I feel the need to add a few thoughts right now, to clarify my own perspective on one of the points, one held by some first parents that is deeply troubling to many adoptive parents - that we should give our children back and legally restore our children's first families.

First, to make sure it's clear - no, I couldn't do this, nor am I suggesting that any adoptive parent could. It is something, however, that deserves our deep thought.

It's obvious that I struggle with my role in adoption and in perpetuating practices that ignore mother's rights. My choice to adopt 18 years ago was based in a desire to have a family. And I believed that I was helping two young Korean women whose culture gave them no other options. It's what I've learned since then that has turned my thoughts around.

Whether we talk about a first mother's surrender of her child to adoptive parents, or adoptive parents' surrender of a child back to their first family, the loss and pain is the same. I couldn't do it, simply could not. Yet society seems to be OK with expecting first parents to do just this - to simply hand their children over.

I could take the position that because my children were already legally in the care of the Korean agency that placed them with us that we were really only helping to save them from institutional lives. But that's not where their history begins. It begins with two women and men who created and bore them, and with the circumstances that pushed those men and women to place them in adoption. Those circumstances - financial need, lack of societal support to raise them, my availability as a solution, and more - need to be addressed.

So from my perspective, a first mother's relinquishment of her child and an adoptive parent's return of their child to the first family would both be accomponied by pain. Yet society accepts the first as sad but necessary, but rejects the second as dissolution of a family.

It's the inherent injustice of this and recognition of the losses my children's mothers live with that make these issues important for me to think about, talk about, get into the open.

Comments

Susan said…
Margie, speaking of "giving them back" did you read about this Korean adoptee, Chad Ostrowski whose parents did just that? This story just blew me away, on so many levels.

http://newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/urban/family/features/975/
Margie said…
I did - it is an amazing story, and thanks for posting the link.

The story of Chad's adoption, beginning to end, is a case study for everything that should be reviewed and addressed in adoption. I respect his family so much for being able to allow him to return to his family - but I'm more angry at the people who allowed him to be placed that this could ever happen.

And I know his situation isn't unique, that's the scariest thing of all.
zoe said…
"Yet society accepts the first as sad but necessary, but rejects the second as dissolution of a family"

I think that is the crux of this discussion - a starting point for talking about change. For me, the question is not, 'would I be willing/able to return my son', but 'why didn't I see the discrepancy in society's thoughts about keeping families together?'

We like to talk about 'the best interest of the child'. It's terribly sad the way that phrase is thrown around to justify the dissolution of one family (first/original) and how it is also accepted as the reason why the (second) family should never be split up. I hope the time has come where first moms and adoptive moms can have some deeper discussions about what society has mislead us into believing about ourselves as parents.
MomEtc. said…
"It's the inherent injustice of this and recognition of the losses my children's mothers live with that make these issues important for me to think about, talk about, get into the open."

I feel the same way when I think about my daughter's mother in China. We can never know the exact circumstance, but shame, lack of social support, lack of finances, governmental policy all, to some extent, likely play a role. She has lost her daughter (and maybe other children) because of gross injustices. Like you, I know that has to acknowledged and discussed. I have had the experience though, more than once of people trying to minimize what my daughter's mother went through and is still going through. I really hear your point in this post.

I read with shock your post revealing that you had been lied to regarding the situation of your son's birthfamily. I'm realizing that this happens more often than we want to believe. For us, because our daughter is from China and was abandoned, we can never have any record of her past, because there is none. We don't know if the little bit we've been told is a lie. I don't think we can even comprehend, at this point, how this will affect Chinese born adoptees. The odds of my daughter ever finding out the truth are close to zero. It blows me away.

Sorry to ramble on. But I think your point is very valid. No one would ever expect me to part with my daughter, but they likely don't think it's any big deal that she was separated from her first mom.

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