Level Set

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about what I have left to write about here. No doubt the generally nostalgic tone of our lives recently, with The Boy off to college and The Girl starting down college search road, has contributed to all this reflection.

When I started writing last year, I was embarking on a search through conflicting feelings about adoption – not the experience of being an adoptive parent, but concerns about adoption injustice and my role in perpetuating it. My family's experience had raised a lot of questions about the "rightness" of adoption, my motives in adopting, and my understanding of just how hard adoption can be for those who experience its losses.

I'm not sure if I've come to terms with the conflict, and I'm not sure I ever can or will. The best I think I'll be able to do is accept living with the that adoption from Korea as it was practiced eighteen years ago, and which is my only real frame of reference, was flawed. I can’t change that; I can only help put the practice right.

In one of my early posts, I wrote this:

Would my husband and I have still adopted had we known then what we know now? I honestly don't know. But to cast that decision in today's light would be a betrayal of the commitment I made to my children then to love them for all time.
Now I know the answer. Yes, I would have adopted my children again. But I would have demanded more information, more details about their and their mothers’ circumstances, and the reasons these women came to adoption. That information may have brought my husband and me to different decisions along the way. In the case of one of our children, I believe the outcome would have been the same. In the other, I don’t know, I just don’t know.

All I really know is that for reasons known only to them, two women came to the decision to place their children in adoption. Those decisions may have been of their free will, they may have been made for reasons we now reject, like poverty or lack of support from their families and communities. They made these decisions with only one solace: That their children would find unconditional love in their new families. My kids found that in my family. Now, I can only hope that some day those women and my children will find each other, and will be able to claim firsthand the love that’s been theirs all along.

There is no place in the world for poverty, tragedy, and injustice. But while they are here, adoption may be with us, too, as in some cases it may be the best way to protect the world’s children from them. It has to be ethical and just. It cannot be an industry unto itself. It must not be practiced as a charitable act unto itself. Those who choose it, first parents and adoptive parents alike, must recognize their responsibilities to preserve their children’s connections to the past, and nurture their connections to the present – their racial and ethnic community. And always, adoption must be down the list of alternatives, a list that must start with preserving genetic families and protecting the human right of mothers, fathers and their children to be together.

I’m not a law maker or social worker, but I can speak out for openness, honesty, and ethics in adoption. I’m not a first mother, but I can speak out in support of single women and men so they are given realistic opportunities to parent their children. But as the adoptive parent of nearly-grown kids, I can speak from a position of some authority on how to preserve our children's ties to the past and nurture their connection to their present communities. I've got NO question about a-parent responsibility for that!

I think this will give me lots to think out loud about in the future – at least I hope so, because otherwise I’m all talked out.


abebech said…
Margie, this is a really great post, and I hope you're not all talked out!
Christina said…
I think you have so much to add to the conversation about ethics in adoption... you have a perspective that needs to be shared and that I want to learn from. So, I hope you continue to be inspired to write! :)
Kohana said…
All talked out? I think not. Beyond the voice that you provide for adoption ethics, you have the experience of raising your children to share with us. Think of those of us who have young children and have years and years of navigating the influence adoption has on our children's lives. We need your expereince. We need your voice.

As to demanding more information in an international adoption, can you even do that these days? Is that even possible? I'm not saying that we shouldn't make the effort, but not having adopted internationally, I didn't know that was really an option.
C and G said…
Please don't quit writing!!! You have a lot of wisdom and experience that we all want to hear!

We have really been challenged (by many adoptive parents as well as from reading this site) that knowing the situation in which our kids come from is sooo important. For us it meant saying "no" to a referral and instead sponsoring a little guy so that he could continue to be raised by his mother. Heartbreaking . . . yet, we knew it was right. As one of my blogging friend writes "International adoption helps to alleviate the orphan crisis. But what are we doing to help eliminate it?"

Cheers - and thanks for writing
Margie said…
C&G, I really appreciate hearing that - thank you!

Thank you all, it's helpful to know that there might be some things I could add still.
Anonymous said…
The post about preparing our children's teachers was really helpful.

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