Saturday, May 9, 2009

adoption; then and now

i should explain a couple things in regard to the previous post. agency policy in '96 was that all correspondence between the birth and adoptive families was to be facilitated by the agency. meaning neither party had identifying information about the other; last names, phone numbers, addresses. also policy dictated that all correspondence would be discontinued at the 5 year mark. this was part of an evolution, coming out of what i call "the dark ages of adoption". these were the days of coercion, shame, fear, and secrecy. many current ideas about adoption unfortunately, are based on what it used to be.
a woman or girl would choose adoption, not necessarily because she felt it was best for her child or herself, but often as a result of family, social, and/or religious pressure. often she'd be sent away from her friends and family and all the support she'd known, so as to hide her sin. and after carrying this child for 9 months and giving birth to him, they were discouraged to hold or touch or even see the child, thinking this would hurt them more or make them change their minds and keep the baby. she'd have no information about the life or whereabouts of her child. after all this she was to go back to her life and try to forget, to pretend it hadn't happened. and i imagine, everyday she'd wake up wondering where her baby was, if he was being fed and taught and loved adequately, if he was well and happy. this, i believe is where we get the old idea that birthmothers are unstable and if given the chance would steal the baby back. i tell you, had i placed under these circumstances, i WOULD have lost my mind!
now, a birthmother is in total control. she is given the right to do what God has trusted her to do, find the best life for her child. good agencies don't pressure but educate. and there is, as we all know, NO stigma attached to single parenting in our culture now, infact there's often judgment that accompanies the choice of adoption. so you know if anyone chooses it, they are doing it because it's what THEY feel is right. and that's the only way she'll ever have peace about it. she can select from thousands of families which one she feels is right. she can announce to them in what ever way she chooses that God has heard their prayers. she has the opportunity to form a relationship with them throughout the pregnancy, see their home, interact with them as a loved friend or family member. she can place her precious baby directly into the arms of the mother she's giving him. she may enjoy a continued closeness with them including contact ranging from letters and pictures for a time, to fitting comfortably in their home on a regular basis forever, as any other friend or family member, depending upon their personalities, circumstances, and what they together agree works best for them. she knows he's happy and well taken care of. she knows he won't wonder if he was loved, she can tell him that he came from love to love. she is most often loved and adored like never before by people who know her for the best thing she ever did. i've heard countless birthmoms express that upon seeing their child at home, in his family, it was reaffirmed to them that they'd made the right choice. they find comfort in the joy of the family they helped to create. i've heard many say to their own astonishment "i knew that wasn't MY baby".
less than 1 percent of the over a million crisis pregnancies every year results in an adoption. it is not the popular choice and certainly not the easy choice. it is a choice made at her own expense. a greater cost of tears and heart ache than she can prepare for. if she can choose this, she's proven she knows how to pray and follow wisdom, she knows how to put his best interest before her own. we've begun to see these are women who can be trusted.
not only the birthmother but all points of the adoption triad benefit from this evolution toward honesty, openness and compassion.
a child in those days often would discover at 8, 12, 16, or 35... that they were adopted. the information being withheld, i suppose, to protect the child from knowing that he was "unwanted" and "unloved" (that was difficult to even type) by the woman who gave him life. or from being different. so this child now has a major identity crisis. the people he trusted most in the world have withheld extremely significant information about who he is. "what else is a lie?". furthermore if and when he was told, it often came with a sense of shame or inferiority as this was something we whispered about, we spoke of it as a disease, a skeleton in the closet. "i'm so sorry son, you're adopted". so he thinks "there is something wrong with me".
today, an adopted child is taught that being adopted makes him special. he has extra family, extra people who love him. that he was not abandoned but that he has his very own birthmom who loved him more than her life. who loved him so much, she gave him every thing he has. when i met Justin's parents they shared with me that every year they celebrate Jeremy's (Justin's older brother) birthday AND adoption day and tell him of the great love with which he came into the world and into his family.
people use to be afraid of confusion regarding parental roles should the birthmother be involved. we now know that if the adults aren't confused, the child won't be. the parents set the tone. if they are secure enough in their position as his parents to portray it in a positive way, he will adopt their attitudes.
i read a study that said the 2 most common questions adoptees would ask if they could, were-"what does she look like?" and "why did she do it?". these questions are answered now and i believe it has a powerful effect on the child's sense of identity, worth, and belonging.
also blessed by the increase in openness and communication, are the parents. beyond being in their child's best interest, they are blessed to know the woman who gave them this most precious of gifts, to share their love and gratitude with her. i know many women on both sides who say they found a best friend and a sister through adoption.
the old idea was that perhaps they would be threatened or displaced by eachother, that toes would be stepped on. this would be true if they were all trying to be parents but that's not what happens. i would NEVER challenge their role as his parents! Debbie is Justin's mother! the end! i couldn't fill her shoes if i tried! we have such delight in, and adoration for eachother! we were the answer to eachother's prayers. we both know the bitter taste of grief and loss, not being able to have what we long for on our own terms. we both know the joy that comes when we give our lives to Him who's wisdom is beyond our own, and how well He can compensate for our sacrifice. and we share a tremendous love of the same precious boy. i think enlightened adoptive parents figure "anyone who loves our baby this much is welcome". a birthmother has to trust more than she's ever trusted, and most families see fit to trust her back.
i truly believe this evolution has been inspired. i wish so much i had 13 yrs ago what so many have now but i'm SO grateful i had what i did, which wouldn't have been allowed 13 or even 3 yrs earlier.
what's more people to love, but a blessing?


  1. Rachel Doyle posted a link to your blog on an infertility blog that I follow and I decided to just pop over for a quick look... I've stayed here reading, watching the videos and crying for about 3 hours! We are having some stress with our birthmom and all of the info you have posted has been SO helpful. So thank you for sharing your story.

    My prayers are with you that your son's adoptive family will contact you. Good luck with everything!

  2. Hey Tam -- I hope it's ok that I posted your blog on that website - I know that you offer insight that can be so helpful to these fabulous families as well as so many others. Happy Birthday Justin!

  3. you kiddin Rachel? post away! (; thanx girl for helpin me share!

    and Beck, thanx so much! his family has no contact info for me but God knows where i stand on the matter (; and i trust his timing