(from last week: Advocacy without dialogue can never facilitate change. The fact that she was completely unwilling to even attempt talking with me only corroborated to me that the idea that she was a poorly researched and informed extremist. I once again wrote off any anti-adoption sentiments as the work of nutjobs. Until . . . )
. . . Until I began life as an adoptive mom of one, two and then three children. Granted, we didn’t put a lot of research into it beforehand. What could we need to know? We already had kids; we’d just be raising someone else’s. We knew issues could come up we’d just cross those bridges when we got to them, right?
Of course things starting happening right away, from dealing with case workers to the comments from strangers. I began reading and talking to people. I learned some eye-opening things, like some people still lied to children about being adopted. Still! In the 2000s! I was shocked.
As we finalized each adoption, we’d get a new birth certificate in the mail. Not an adoption certificate, but a state-issued legally binding document stating that I gave birth to each of the three adopted children. The anti-adoption organization’s name of “Legalized Lies” suddenly resonated with me. I was able to sympathize in a new way with Adoptee’s Rights organizations that push for truth in adoption. (Fortunately, I was able to get my hands on copies of my children’s original birth certificates to save for them for posterity. I know that not every adopted child was as lucky.)
I learned the details of my kids’ birth parents’ lives, of the anguishing cycles of addiction and poverty. For awhile I believed that the best case scenario would be for them to relinquish their rights to their children directly over to us, feeling that would give them a voice in the process, making it a decision they made instead of something that happened to them. However when that day came, I realized the decision was still made for them, the unspoken ultimatum being “relinquish now or lose your rights next month anyway.”
I discovered that State’s dedication to open adoption amounted to lip service and wasn’t followed up with any tangible advice or support.
Our adoptions coincided with an adoption trend amongst celebrities, which lead many people to assume our children were foreign-born. Some refused to believe we adopted American-born children and of course would tell us so (http://www.sisterserendip.com/2013/03/retorts.html). I read criticism of shady adoption practices, both foreign and domestic. I read of birth families being tricked into relinquishing their children and of the flat out kidnapping of babies to meet the demand for the Americans’ latest country of choice for “saving” children via adoption. Meanwhile the rate of African American children being adopted out of the country grew at an alarming rate.
I read with horror the stories of adopted children being abused and even killed. I read of a Russian boy being put on a plane back to Russia with a note from his adoptive mother saying she couldn’t handle him anymore. One after another foreign country closed their doors to American adoptions and I couldn’t say I blamed them. Certain unscrupulous for-profit adoption agencies continued to pursue opening new countries so they could continue to turn a profit. This greed led to not properly screening, preparing or providing adequate post-adoption support to families and likewise caused the “un-adopting” trend as revealed in a Reuters expose last September (http://www.reuters.com/investigates/adoption/#article/part1)
With stories like these continuing to make news, it became easier to understand the anti-adoption sentiment. I began to realize that in a lot of ways I am anti-adoption too, because:
I am anti-adoption as a profit making industry.
I am anti-adoption coercion.
I am anti-adoption cloaked in secrecy and lies.
I am anti-closed adoption.
I am anti-adoption as an opportunity to fabricate false birth certificates.
I am anti-lack of adoptive family screening and support.
Then a few weeks ago I saw this essay written by a birthmother: http://www.chicagonow.com/portrait-of-an-adoption/2013/11/you-can-call-me-anti-adoption-if-you-must/ outlining some of the same things I’ve discussed here, how there is a lot to be against about adoption. She ends by saying: If that has to be called "anti adoption", then I will wear that label proudly and would be honored to have you join me now that you know what it means. For me, as someone who has adopted three times, I still don’t feel like I can legitimately say I am 100% anti-adoption. But now that I am more knowledgeable on the subject, I can say I understand many of the sentiments behind the anti-adoption movement. I can say I am vehemently pro-adoption reform and I will continue to strive to demonstrate this dedication through the choices that I make.