A weekend immersed in adoption

I spent the weekend in Philadelphia with my friend Suz, her boyfriend (who is one heck of a nice guy), and a lovely young adoptee artist, Joanna, who opened her home to us as our workspace. Suz and I planned this weekend to give us a chance to talk face-to-face about the session we'll be doing at the American Adoption Congress conference in April.

We socialized over brunch on Saturday to break the ice, and then spent a full afternoon walking back through our adoption journeys. For Suz and Joanna, it was a tremendously emotional day. I'm still not convinced I haven't overstepped my boundaries suggesting that Suz and I do this session, and I'm still worried about how hard I know it is for her look back as we are looking.

For me, the weekend was a stark reminder of how unbalanced the adoption equation is. We compared paperwork, for example, and you would be appalled at how very little legal documentation Suz was provided. I, on the other hand, had six files full of legal documents, and hadn't even brought them all. It was almost all about my husband and me, too - all kinds of forms and autobiographical documentation, yet so little about our children's parents, and not all that much about our children. I understand, of course, that much of this paperwork fulfills legal requirements, but the sheer volume of it in comparison to the tiny bits of information we received about our children and their parents just seems wrong to me. Now, some of you will be thinking But there really wasn't much information to share in our child's case, and that may be true. But I wonder sometimes the fact that little information is available sometimes has led to adoption practices that focus little attention there, even when more information and maybe more contact would be possible. You know, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It seems to me that an adoption is a lot like a marriage, in that adoptee and his or her families become one extended family. This view of adoption's relationships is probably what has set me outside the typical mainstream view. But you have to nurture marriages, and you would have to do the same with extended adoptive family relationships, too - right from the beginning. Like many things in life, if you don't take advantage of the time you have up front, you may never regain the opportunity. Everyone involved needs the education and encouragement to recognize the great opportunity they have to build a relationship that will help the child, most of all, but everyone else involved as well. I have to believe that even though this end goal is a long shot, we could do a lot more to foster it.

This kind of thinking is what Suz and I are hoping to spark with our session. We've got a lot of work to do, but this weekend was an excellent start. And I know we're going to make a difference.

* * * * * * *

On a non-adoption-related note: The Girl took a bronze medal in the U.S. Open taekwondo tournament this weekend. She took a bronze in the 2009 U.S. team qualifier that took place in Colorado Springs in January as well. Next stop for her is the next round of team trials, then the U.S. Nationals qualifier, and then Nationals in the summer. This kid is dedicated - and boy can she kick!


Suz Bednarz said…
Ha. You sound like my boyfriend with your concerns on boundaries. As I told him, feel free to push boundaries. I have learned, thanks to adoption, how to push back!

Hugs and major kudos to M!
rosemary said…
I wish we could go to that conference but can't make it. I'm sure you'll do a great job though.
blackbelt said…
I'm going to finish reading your post but I must tell you the next time you're in Philly, call me!
Cavatica said…
Congrats, M, on the bronze! That is awesome! What a great sport.

I wrote a post, dated 2/15, that I'm curious to hear your thoughts on, as a mom with older kids and knowing so many adult adoptees.
malinda said…

I'm really interested in what you said about the disparity of paperwork, of basic information. And the idea of adoption as extended family. One of the things I'm working on now is an article arguing that increased openness in adoption is protected by international human rights. Not much law there, but I'm enjoying crafting the arguments with what there is!
Judy said…
Sounds great; I can't wait to see you and Suz's presentation.

Congrats to M.!

- Judy
Amy said…
"But I wonder sometimes the fact that little information is available sometimes has led to adoption practices that focus little attention there, even when more information and maybe more contact would be possible. You know, like a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Margie - I recently read an old message I'd written to someone about this very issue. The public topic of conversation had to do with how 'ethical' a certain international adoption program is reputed to be. My thought was, 'but we really don't know that....because we know NOTHING". People don't seem to realize that in many cases it's all basically the same general info regugitated with a few details changed. I remain sad and angry about this particular aspect and what it means for those who have been adopted.

Best wishes to you with the conference; thanks for your efforts on behalf of those affected by adoption.
Anonymous said…
please see the link >

I think you are onto something with the lack of equity in information flow. It's easy for me to wish I knew more about them, but much harder to understand what they loose in the missed opportunity. Looking forward to hearing where you take this.

Congrats to M!!

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