Conflicting Realities

My thoughts have continued to turn on Robin Westbrook's response to the comments I made to one of her posts awhile ago. I have to be completely honest and say that I have really struggled with these. Even now, as I send this post out there, I don't think I've even begun to scratch the surface of these complicated issues. I certainy haven't been able to verbalize the turmoil that remains in my brain after making this attempt. It hurts, I hurt. Yet I know that what I'm feeling pales in comparison to the way a first mother must hurt every day not knowing where her child is.

As I thought out loud here, I tried to avoid the fine legalities that tangle up much adoption discussion, and to focus on the intent of the challenge. Please remember: I speak for myself only. In no way should my thoughts be construed to represent adoptive parents generally.

And so, my thoughts in response to Robin's belief that there is no room for dialog between first parents and adoptive parents, and that adoptive parents can't be considered enlightened until ...

adopters realize the difference between a want and a need, an attachment and a true bond

I agree that a want and a need are two different things. I know and admit freely that I didn't NEED to have a child, I WANTED one, desperately. Entitlement, yes I acknowledge that.

The bond between a mother and the child to whom she gives birth is unique in all the world, it's something that I will never share with my children. I don't want or need to displace it; instead, we've made a different kind of connection, based on time spent and lives lived together.

we get to the point where there are adopters and foster care providers who can say that the first and most important priority is to unite the original family

Keeping families together should be our first priority, always. And it's clear that adoption as it's practiced in the US today doesn't focus on family preservation, it focuses on building an adoptive family. As long as adoptive parents are available, I believe adoption will remain the path of least resistance, and family preservation will lag behind.

If I had really understood this dynamic, would I have adopted anyway?

I honestly don't know. I trust myself enough to say I would not have knowingly agreed to an adoption I knew was illegal or unethical. But I don't know if recognizing my role in the supply chain of adoption would have convinced me it was unethical to proceed.

people don't jump in to tell me how different THEIR case and how that makes adoption so "right" for them

The adoptions of my children, like every adoption, have at their core mothers who live their lives without their children. They live with the pain of that loss, of not knowing where there children are. That pain, that loss, are universal.

adopters, who know that the awakened mother, who surrenders while affected by her seeming "crisis" and the rampant hormones of pregnancy, wants to reclaim her child, freely return that child to the mother with no media hoopla or court battles

I can only say that I hope I would have had the strength to return my child to his or her mother - because I recognize that this is exactly what I expected my children's mothers to do when they relinquished. Yes, I hope I could have done the right thing.

those who have adopted release their "parental" claims on the children they have taken "as their own"

Could I negate our adoption, and return our children to their first families for no other reason than to redress adoption inequities? No. When I adopted, I committed in good faith to my children and their first families to be their parent forever. That's a commitment I will never break, unless at the request of my children. And even then, although I would step aside, nothing about my love for them, my commitment to be there for them no matter what, would change.

adopters realize and ADMIT that they did something wrong by seeking that adoption and doing all in their power to restore the original family

I admit that I participated in a process that was inherently flawed. I admit that I didn't look beyond the positive perceptions of adoption, that I accepted what I was told and believed that by adopting I was doing something good for a child and mother in a desperate situation. But I will not admit that I acted maliciously, or that I intended to hurt a mother or steal a child, for that simply isn't so.

Trying to come to grips with my feelings on these issues has been incredibly difficult. It's almost as if these challenges have opened a different dimension to adoption, a reality in complete conflict with mine. I can't reconcile the life my family has lived with this other adoption reality.

I've been wondering lately if there's really a point to continuing to write, and at the moment I'm not sure. For when you write you need conviction, and where is mine? Lost in doubt, hypocrisy, and the fear that if I continue, it might invalidate my right to love my children. That's something I'm not willing to risk.

Yet what of their mothers? Adoption expects first mothers to say good-bye, to push thoughts of their children out of their minds, to live their lives as if those children were never born to them. And that's ridiculous, how could anyone believe that to be true? How did I?

Facing Robin's terms, her stark truth, may be the point beyond which I can't go. Without being able to articulate my thoughts on this, I'm not sure there's anything left for me to say.

Comments

zoe said…
((Margie)),

The honest reflection in your post is so evident. I feel sad that this is our reality, and that we chose it so unknowingly. I'm contacting you off-blog.
suz said…
Margie - I say yes, continue to write. Maybe not as frequently, maybe you need to time to digest, process but you are a voice that has been heard and must continue to be heard.
MomSquared said…
There are a lot of things I don't say, on both sides, for the same reason. I just can't articulate it in a way that is as profound as how I feel it.
Irshlas said…
I, for one, have appreciated your honest comments and reflections on adoption. I don't agree with everything you have written, but it's definitely given me pause for thought. Only you can know if you still have something to say and/or share with us, your readers. I just think it would be a shame to let one person's comments/ thoughts/ perspectives on a subject to cause you to feel you shouldn't share your own unique perspective. One view on a subject leaves no view. Some of us appreciate your willingness to share and provide others with a forum on which their personal thoughts and feelings are respected and heard. Too many blogs are one-sided and rail at the idea of an opinion different from their own. You're a breath of fresh air and I'd hate to see you go. Then again, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.....
YES keep writing! Even if you talk about the weather or something for a while, you can't give this up! I sympathize with your conflict of course, but writing is how to deal with it (even if you keep those posts private and talk about something else here for a while).

I am reading Primal Wound now (finally) and posting about it and I would love to hear your comments. A Wrung Sponge If you are not sick of talking about it, of course.
Susan said…
Margie: absolutely, do NOT stop writing. You are so conscientious and thoughtful and reflective, and the adoption community REALLY REALLY needs your voice out there. You are a hundred miles ahead of SO many adoptive parents out there, and I hate to see you berate yourself for not having this most extreme in-a-perfect-world approach. It is not a perfect world, nor a perfect adoption system, and in that imperfection you have managed to be a really good mother and a thoughtful member of a very diverse community. DON'T stop writing! (you're also an excellent writer)
Anonymous said…
Adoption is far from perfect, but I take serious issue with anyone who is as one-sided as Robin. I admit I find her thoughts provoking, but she speaks only one dimension of "the truth" (whatever that is)
kathy said…
Hi Third Mom,
I really love your blog for it's
tone and content. The questions
you ask strike a chord in me
because I have had these thoughts
too and find myself coming back
to them again and again.

I hope you continue to write.
afrindiemum said…
'I've been wondering lately if there's really a point to continuing to write, and at the moment I'm not sure. For when you write you need conviction, and where is mine? Lost in doubt, hypocrisy, and the fear that if I continue, it might invalidate my right to love my children. That's something I'm not willing to risk.'

this is something i think everyday. but everytime i make myself keep on writing. and each time i feel like i'm able to reconcile those conflicts for myself a little more. i think it's so important for you to keep writing - especially now.
weigook saram said…
Okay, I'm going out on a limb here, but I really disagree with this line:

"adopters realize and admit that they did something wrong by seeking that original adoption and doing all in their power to restore the original family"

I am not invalidating Robin's experience. I have not read her blog, but it sounds like she's speaking from a place of deep hurt and loss and pain. Yes, a lot of adoptions are flawed, and the system in general is flawed. But there are exceptions. (See my comment to the post below.)

I feel like she's saying she speaks for ALL birthmothers.

I believe that there are mothers who willingly relinquish their children, who feel pain and loss but not regret. And it sounds to me like Robin is invalidating their experience.
Margie

I hope that you will continue to write, I love that you are willing to look at hard questions and be so honest.

MSP
Jennifer said…
Margie,

I have never once felt guilty about adopting Emma. Perhaps I have that luxury because we see Emma's first family once or twice a year and I can see both her pain and her contentment with her decision.

On the other hand, my experience with biological parenthood is full of guilt, depression and anxiety.

Even while maintaining contact with Emma's first family, I rarely consider what brought her to us in any way except to be grateful. Allison was nearly twenty months old before I could look at her and not replay her birth over and over in my head to make it a "perfect" birth. Just as I shouldn't blame myself for the c-section delivery or for my post-partum depression, my opinion is that you shouldn't blame yourself for the circumstances of your children's first mothers. Please do not take to heart anything anyone says that is critical of you. You did not pursue motherhood with the express intention to ruin another mother's life. The fact that you are working so hard to enlighten your readers is a great honor to them. You are an awesome and supportive mother.

Not a single woman on this planet needs to be a mother. It is a lucky woman who wants and can conceive and bare a child. Let's not be hypocritical here. Why is it okay to judge the motivations and intentions of adoptive mothers? Is my motherhood of Allison more noble because I gave birth to her? I think we all know the answer here.

You are an extremely empathetic person. Perhaps too much so. Please don't let the pain experienced by adoptees and first mothers make you live the rest of your life questioning your adoption choices. Everyone has pain in their life and at some point we have to take responsibility for adressing it. I can blame "hippie birth nazis" for the rest of my life, but it doesn't change a darn thing inside me. Similarly, if I read the blog of a "hippie birth nazi" questioning her convictions, that would have nothing to do with me - the feeling of vindication would be fleeting and a wolf in sheep's clothing. It would allow me to remain a perpetual victim. You can question and empathize and try to make life fair, but you can't. Life has never been that way.

I hope that you understand what I am trying to say. You are a beautiful mother. You may never be your children's first mother, but I believe with all my heart that you are the best mother they could ever have.
blackbeltoma said…
First, Jennifer, I want to just "ditto" what you said.

I think it's really important to think about the inequities of adoption...and the inequities of life. Sometimes life is trying to make the least bad choice. In some ways, adoption is that way. I think that's what the "triad of grief" is about. If I understand what Robin is saying, we are not to participate in something because it is a flawed system. I guess I'd have to be a hermit because everything human is flawed: government, churches, marriages, school, etc.

Now, I have to ask about the birth mom and her choices. Maybe I'm reading into it, but it seems like to Roblin there's this assumption that women have the RIGHT to have sex, get pregnant, have and keep their baby. Umm, no. (Not talking about rapes, here.) In Korea, where I'm from, having a child "out of wedlock" has HUGE consequences. HUGE. It's not like it's hidden, or a new law. So, you decide to have sex, then you got pregnant and had a child. So now it's your RIGHT to keep that child -- even if you give that child up for adoption? Ummm - no. And now I'M the bad person for wanting a child?

I've thought about this a lot, and though my heart breaks for the grieving women, and how unfair life for women can be, it bothers me that adopters are villified because of the sad choices birth moms have made.

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