The superfluous adoptive parent

superfluous [suːˈpɜːflʊəs]
1. exceeding what is sufficient or required
2. not necessary or relevant; uncalled-for
3. Obsolete extravagant in expenditure or oversupplied with possessions
[from Latin superfluus overflowing, from super- + fluere to flow]
superfluously adv
superfluousness n

I’ve been busy these days – work, travel, house, volunteer stuff, it just goes on and on. I therefore missed what appears to have been a bit of a fracas in adoption blogland over a best mom blogger contest run amok. The page is down, but you can get to the cached page for the apology that followed the fray.

I wouldn’t have know about it except for stumbling onto it in a post at Joy’s blog, which sent me on to Linda, who connected the dots back to the woman who posted the pix of her Chinese daughter making "Chinese eyes" last year. I'm not entirely sure of her role in the whole thing, but apparently she was a player in one way or another, a sad example of an adoptive parent who just can't seem to hand the mike to anyone else.

Blessedly, I missed it all. I love a good free-for-all, but in all honesty, they're beginning to scare me. Not scary in the sense of vicious or threatening, but because they are such a distraction from the boatloads of work that are begging to be done to get adoption ethical.

That work includes balancing the imbalanced adoption dynamic as seen in this latest blog debacle: the fact that adoptive parents control so much of the experience, from the surrender of children down to their children's identities. Adoptive parents need to remember that we exist in our role because bad things happen to other people. In a perfect world, we wouldn't exist at all because children wouldn't need us: they would be with the parents who gave birth to them, and those parents would have the means and desire to parent them. And that would be a good thing, a very good thing indeed.

We need to embrace our superfluousness, not fear it.

Maybe the fact that both of my kids are now officially adults and living a continent away allows me to step back and view my role in their lives this way. I haven’t forgotten what it feels like to hold a sleeping toddler in my arms, and the pure bliss it brings. But at the end of the day, that toddler should have been sleeping in someone else's arms. I simply do not understand why people feel the need to say this isn't true.

I don’t need to be the only parent in my kids’ lives to love them as I do. I don’t need to be the God-ordained parent to treasure, protect and support them. I can be the second mom or third mom or mom-that-shouldn’t-have-been, and it doesn’t change a thing in our relationship, which is as strong and tight and loving as any parent-child relationship can be.

It does, however, change my relationship with their mothers and fathers. It reminds me that there are women like me and men like my husband on the other side of the planet who really should be in my place. That thought is humbling, it really is.

Yes, I'm superfluous, and I'm fine with it.


Reena said…
I think this is one of the best posts I've ever read regarding being an adoptive parent.
Amanda said…
You are simply anazing :-)
LisaAnne said…
Amazing post. Your maturity and wisdom is apparent.
Stephanie said…
Just beautiful. Thank you.
Kim said…
Good Post. I equate adoption to Dr. Suess's "Horton Hatches the Egg" It is the best description I can give. My son seems to adapt better, but my daughter did not seem to even begin to adjust until I told her the truth about her mother. I think I should have done that from the beginning.
Anonymous said…
This is beautiful. A birthmom/first mom/mom thanks you for it!
Beautiful, thank you from a natural mother who is now celebrating 10 years of reunion with a daughter who should have been with me all along.
Susan P. said…
Posts like this give me hope for the future of adoption. Please make sure your eloquent voice is heard in the political arena as well. See my advocacy for unsealing records at Thank you!
Amanda said…
*amazing. Sorry for the typo. *sigh*
Myst said…
Wow, a very brave and fantastic post!
Michelle said…
That's beautiful. Perfectly spoken adn very very true.
ms. marginalia said…
Beautifully said, honest, forthright. I appreciate your candor and ability to see the work that must be done. We just cannot do it if we are told that we aren't worth listening to!

With great appreciation,
Adri Ramirez said…
This is fantastic. I appreciate this so much. Thank you for sharing. I read parts of your post to my husband and we were both nodding right along. Thank you again.
xoxo, adri
Margie said…
Thanks, everyone, I appreciate your comments and hope I have the opportunity to circle around to your blogs over the next few days.

This is tough stuff. I know the intensity of the love adoptive parents feel for their children and the desire to have an enduring bond with them. I have felt all of those feelings.

I also know (and it's one of the few advantages of getting old) that bonds happen on their own, not because we will them to be. And I truly believe that if adoptive parents focused less about that and more on the real inequities and injustices in adoption, with their words and especially their actions, we could fix it all fast.

It's our responsibility, and I hope what I write here encourages other APs to move in this direction.

Happy Thursday to everyone!
Anonymous said…
I know, and that is freedom right? To just be, to be okay, to be perfect and totally flawed. To be what we are,because we are kind of awesome. Because flaws make people interesting and give them something to do.
Joy said…
oh that was me,

Margie said…
I knew before you said so, Joy :) Hugs and thanks!
Margie said…
I knew before you said so, Joy :) Hugs and thanks!
Anonymous said…
Oh please!

Thirdmom you talk now because all of your children are grown and have their loyalties in place to you. Also, let’s not forget that you possibly adopted from Korea because at that time there were no "open adoptions" holding you hostage.

It never amazes me how aparents sing the "evils of adoption" but yet adopt from overseas to avoid bparents/open adoptions...seems hypocritical to me.
Margie said…
Anon, that's a fair comment that needed more attention than I could give it in a comment, so I posted a response here:

My response may not alter your opinion, which isn't the point. I think it's a topic that adoptive parents who are working on adoption reform issues should consider.

Thanks for your candor, and for taking the time to comment.
Anonymous said…
[But at the end of the day, that toddler should have been sleeping in someone else's arms. I simply do not understand why people feel the need to say this isn't true.]

Because to say that that infant should have been with someone else means that infant "should not" have been with the adoptive parent.

For the adoptive parent who wants to believe "meant to be", that is a paradoxical belief.
Mei-Ling said…
I also didn't get invoolved with Circle of Moms fiasco.

Too tiring.

I sat here shaking my head in the aftermath.
Margie said…
Indeed. I personally don't believe that any adoptive parent was meant to gave their child and would like to see that phrase leave adoption vocabulary.
Deb said…
here, here, Margie. That particular terminology makes me want to scream.

This post is spot on, as usual, Margie. From one Amom to another, you rock.

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