Handing over the keys

Our daughter graduated from college in June. My husband and I spent a week in Los Angeles celebrating with her and our son, who is working out there. Although she is back east for the summer, we’re now in the throes of planning a cross-country road trip to bring her back and leave one of our cars for her and her brother to use.

I wonder if there’s anything more gratifying for a parent to experience than the launch of a child into the life of his or her choice. In spite of – or maybe precisely because of – the fact that the economy is still sputtering, even the smallest step toward independence is precious. I love watching them take control of their lives, and marvel at their confidence and optimism.

This milestone has made me plenty retrospective, too. I imagine every parent goes through this when their kids spread their wings. Lots of memories have been competing for attention, nearly 25 years’ worth. I can barely accept that the time has flown so quickly, but here we are.

Although bringing back the memories is wonderful, retrospection is really only fine in moderation. At the end of the day it’s useless unless you understand what it’s trying to tell you, and then do something with the message.

Retrospection always leads me to the same conclusion: that my happiness and my family's closeness came at a steep price that was paid by others. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference that I love my kids and they love me; love never justifies injustice, but should instead fight it. As long as adoption favors rich over poor, mature over young, or white over non-white, it is headed for failure. This is precisely what adoption does.

It will also fail as long as adoptive parents deny adoptee voices. Adoptive parents, it is time for us to realize that we never should have been in the adoption driver’s seat. Let’s hand over the keys to adoptees, and move to the back of the bus. We can be allies from back there, and can shift the paradigm from focusing on us to focusing on adoptees - our kids - where it belongs.

That may be the very best thing we can do to put adoption right.


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