Thinking of Adopting?

Conflicting Views on Adoption

My biological mom shared with me that after she was born, her mom was going to place her for adoption. When the adoptive parents showed up, her grandmother (my great grandmother) stepped in and stopped it.

Typically, when I try to have a conversation with her about my own pain of the grief and loss of being adopted, it turns to a conversation about her pain of ALMOST being adopted. She suffers a great deal from this. It is a part of her life that is difficult for her to process and she tends to speak a lot about it. I can feel the heartbreak in her voice.

Honestly, I have no problem with setting aside my own feelings for a time and talking with her about the fact that she was ALMOST adopted. I can completely empathize with how upsetting it must be for her.

Imagine finding out that your mother ALMOST placed you for adoption. Almost. But she didn’t.

Most likely, even if she did ALMOST place you for adoption, she won’t tell you. It’s like mothers who considered abortion but then chose to give birth. Most parents won’t share that information with the child. Why cause pain for someone over something that was only considered?

So, most likely, you will live your life without giving much thought to adoption except those fleeting moments when they bring out the unicorns in cinema or pop culture. You will be taught to view adoption as wonderful for those needy children who get adopted. A family is created and everyone is happy or so they insinuate.

That is exactly how my biological mom views adoption. She says that most adopted people are happy they got adopted. I’m not sure how she reconciles the fact that she ALMOST got adopted and it is very upsetting to her, yet, my adoption should lead me to a happy place. I’m still working on figuring that one out.

Regardless, you will most likely never know that possibly, your mother wasn’t in a great situation at the time you made an appearance and possibly, someone played upon those insecurities to persuade her to place you for adoption. Possibly, a neighbor or clergy or relatives looked at you as that needy child who could use a better home than the one you were born into.

Was your mom single, broke, young, immature or just plain not good enough for someone around her?

If she fell into any ONE of those labels, it could have been you sitting here adopted. Adoption might not feel so wonderful and fuzzy when you think of yourself as the one who had been given up.

And if one of those categories applied to her, the only reason she didn’t place you for adoption was because she found a way out. Someone helped her. Someone stepped up. Someone stepped in.

Thinking of Adopting? – Family Preservation vs Adoption

Instead of continuing the facade of how society wants us to view adoption, is it possible that you could be that someone for a mother to be?

Could you help keep a family together so that when that baby grows up, he might only have to wonder if his mother considered placing him for adoption rather than knowing? Maybe to him, adoption will never mean anything more than a far away thought of what is needed occasionally rather than an acceptable institution where hearts are broken, but it is somehow celebrated. Maybe to him, his mom might mention that it was hard in the beginning when he was a baby but that it’s also the ‘good old days’ that were filled with love and play.

And maybe the most heartbreaking thing she will remember is watching him grow up too fast

Could you step up?

Could you step in?

16 thoughts on “Thinking of Adopting?

  1. 我是收养

    I absolutely agree with you! When hearing about children in orphanages or foster care, I think the common question is how to get them out of the system, mostly through adoption. I think more people need to question why children are entering the system in the first place, though. Answering this question can’t be as simple as “immature, first parents who are neglectful” or the fact that “well, the parents chose to give them up.” Were children abandoned by parents who desperately wanted to keep them but couldn’t because of governmental policies like the One Child Policy in China? Were these children given up because their impoverished, unwed mother didn’t have anyone to support her? Or were drugs and alcoholism a problem in the child’s first home? I think it is our responsibility to facilitate long term solutions to prevent family separation that lie in community building, working to eradicate the negative social stigma of single motherhood, and even advocating more education for women and drug prevention programs. I fundamentally believe that most people want to be good parents, but services to aid them are lacking. My desire is to someday have a clean adoption system where money isn’t abused and programs exist to help first families, so it is 100% clear that the children being adopted don’t have living family who want to raise them.

    1. Kat Post author

      100% YES on every single word you wrote. It is about support. Adoption looks at the problem upside down. We’re looking at adoption as the solution to a problem, when we need to be discussing how to avoid the problem in the first place – and when I say problem, I mean at any point where a mother feels or is told she cannot raise her own child. I have seen young women crying out that they want to keep their baby. They have absolutely no desire to place their child for adoption. They just feel like they have run out of choices and been backed into a corner. That’s the real problem and adoption does not solve THAT problem that we have women who feel this way. This is the real opportunity for those who were thinking of adoption, if possible, to step back to see how they (and all of us) can create more than just a family – a community.

  2. Tera

    Another great post Kat, thanks. Something else to add is the way society tends to punish and look down on young mothers who parent. When my first child was born, I was 16 and living with my parents. Not once did I get an offer of help to get up with the baby in the night, he was colicy and I was as exhausted as any new mother should be, I didn’t get breaks to go out with friends and I fully accepted this was all my responsibility, and I did not complain because it was understood that I was, in a sense, being punished for getting pregnant in the first place; it was a test in resilience and ironically when I had a child later in my 20’s, with my own home and the support of a partner, help came out of the woodwork, there was no shame in getting “breaks” or having mother stay to help with the baby, because by that time, it was socially acceptable. Why is that our attitude toward young parents? I cannot count all of the rude and derogatory comments I received from total strangers while out with my son, even up to age of his 4th year. Young parents need as much support and kindness as anybody else with young children!

    When I was 18 I became pregnant with my second child, both children were full siblings, but the second pregnancy the pressure to give up my child due to my age mainly, became more than I could bare. Again my mother’s main concern was herself and how a second grandchild would make her look, and every other stranger on the street seemed to be of the opinion that my baby would be better off without me, adoption agencies have money to be made, so of course they are going to pray on that. In the end, no one else gives a shit and has went on with their lives, but I will forever be left with a hole in my heart until the day I die; and my sons are missing out on having a sister that they should have. On top of that, is she really better off? How can that be measured?

    1. Kat Post author

      Tera, this has been on my mind recently because of a hash tag conversation that was started on twitter last week by Natash Vianna with #FeminismIsForTeenMomsToo. Just to quote a few of her tweets:

      “Because my child is referred to as a public health issue, a punishment, and a consequence.”

      “Because I was perceived as white when I was an honor roll student, but a stereotypical Latina when I got pregnant.”

      “Because a toddler’s temper tantrum in a store means people judging my entire life.”

      “How will you help end the cycle of shaming and stigmatizing teen mothers?”

      I loved the last one because it really places the responsibility on all of us to do something. This was an important conversation to hear and be part of. If anyone reading here is on Twitter, I would definitely recommend reading through all of the tweets!

      Thank you for sharing Tera.

  3. Tera

    I love that! So absolutely true. I would love to follow her and partake in the conversation but closed my FB and Twitter accounts due to problems with somewhat of a nuisance stalker. As it turns out people don’t like us talking or sharing information if adoption is put in anything less than a happy light, full gratitude and sunshine 😉 I guess they don’t want their little bubbles burst. Surprise surprise. So for now I’ve lost the stomach for it.

  4. Pingback: Thinking of Adoption on Sisterwish | Musings of the Lame

  5. Abby

    Thanks, from an adoptive mother. I read just about everything I can about birth parents, and I am now at the point where I am flabbergasted by how the loss inherent in adoption is completely whitewashed in our society. (I have a number of friends and neighbors who have adopted internationally, and when I ask about the birth parents, it is apparent that it is something they rarely think about.)

    We adopted after my daughter died of cancer at age 8. From the start, I had ethical concerns about adoption (why not just give the $$ that you would pay an adoption agency to a pregnant woman instead, to help her raise her child ). As it turned out, the birth parents who placed their child with us made their decision based on more than just money, and the decision really was their own–still, I must face the fact that if the needed support services were available to them, they probably would have chosen to parent. Just last night my son’s birth mother was on the phone with me crying, saying, “We really did want to keep him.” We have remained in close contact with them, both for the sake of our son and for their sake, because I know it helps them emotionally to be part of his life.

    I cannot turn back the clock, and of course we adore our kids, but my view of adoption now is much, much different–and more realistic–now. Thank you, bloggers, for getting me to that place.

    1. Teddy1975

      What stops you from allowing them to adopt him back? You cannot turn back the clock, but you might allow him a remainder of his life with people more desrving of him.

      1. Cate

        I wonder this too. I was numb after the first three months, crying myself in to a stupor every day and night, numb when I wasn’t crying. Then I got a phone call from my daughters AP THREE MONTHS POST SEPARATION who said they were suddenly pregnant after years of IVF and heartache trying to conceive.
        I wonder, if I said- does this mean I can have her back? would it have been rude-? Also, was she upset because she felt she SHOULD have returned her to me?
        It’s a moot point because I was too trained in thinking of other people, and it would be ‘the height of rudeness’ to ask for something (someONE) back once given in good faith.
        How screwed are we as a sex and race?

  6. Sarah

    I very much agree that more resources should be put in place to assist family preservation and that by far the best place for any child, where possible, is with their natural family. This is however not always possible, the safety of the child has to be the most important consideration in this argument, and at times children who are at risk of being harmed can not stay with family. More emphasis should be placed on educating our young on how to be responsible good parents and then maybe the cycle can be broken.

    Thanks for sharing on #WASO

  7. Suddenly Mummy

    Your point about ‘almost’ being placed for adoption and actually being adopted is very well made. The beginning of these two stories is the same – rejection, abandonment. The difference is the ending. The ending doesn’t cancel out the beginning, but it could change the future and maybe alter the way a person processes the beginning. The child who was almost adopted, the one who spent a lifetime in care and the one who was actually adopted all must live with the reality that they were given up, or taken away, or abandoned or mistreated. This is unalterable. But the hope is that a person who is adopted, or made into a family in some other way (by special guardianship, or stable long-term fostering, for instance) might have the opportunity to process that beginning from the security of a place where they are wanted, accepted and not abandoned even if that is hard for them to accept deep down. My heart is sad for your bio mom who may never have known what it was to be wanted.

  8. MarieAnne

    I think of this when I hear several friends of mine who have adopted from Haiti and other countries. They adopted these “abandoned” babies who were given up because the moms were too poor to feed them.

    That just doesn’t sit right with me. Several of the birth moms begged the adoptive moms to bring the babies back for a visit when they are older “just once”.

    It just doesn’t sit right… when I heard of the thousands of dollars spent on these adoptions. And when these people are Christians and read a Bible, like I do, that says to care for the orphan and widow…. is it such a large stretch to assume that God meant the single mother or the married poor mother as well.

    How can it be love to spend thousands of dollars to take a baby from a mother too poor to feed him instead of using even half of that thousands to improve the village’s life so that mothers do not feel they have to give away their babies in order for them to live?

    A birth mother who begs an adoptive mother to bring the child back “just once” to visit, does not “not want” her baby. She simply wants him to live, and taking him away instead of helping her be able to afford to keep him is simply wrong. No easy way around that – just wrong.

    There are some children who should be adopted. There are a few mothers who honestly do not want their babies. There are some true orphans in the world. But taking a baby from a mother who simply gives him up because she can not feed him turns my stomach.

    I recently watched an adoptive family return to a Central American country from which they adopted a baby for a promised visit. Their adoptive daughter was now 21, and they had promised the birth mother they would bring her for a visit. The adoptive family spent a week in the country visiting the beach and friends they had made when they had to stay there a month twenty-one years ago. On the very last night of the week, they went for two hours to the birth mother’s home and had dinner with her.

    That made me sick.

    To show that much disrespect to a woman who gave you the most precious gift you ever received and to the daughter who you call your own!

    I once fostered a baby who needed medical care in a third world for nine months. I returned the baby, and even though I never considered him “mine”, my heart ached for seeing him for years. I returned for a visit when he was in his late teens, and his mother had me stay for a week while we connected and spent many hours learning who he was and telling him the story of why this stranger loved him, too. Why? Because his birth mother was a mother and respected the love I felt for her son. She knew what it felt like for me to place him in her arms and walk away while he screamed “mama!” after me. She knew because she had placed him in mine months before and walked away crying.

    I could have easily kept him. I had more power and courts are easily convinced there. I did not because I knew she loved him. I could have given him a good life, education, etc. He grew up in a dirt hut instead. BUT HE WAS HERS AND SHE WANTED HIM! So I kept walking away. Those wails still echo in my head and it was the hardest moment of my life, but I have never regretted it. Even if she was dirt poor, he was hers and she loved him. And he turned out wonderful!

    I am not saying that short foster care was anything like adoption. I am saying that a mother respects another mother, and what I saw from that adoptive family made me sick. Two hours out of an entire week you were in her city! Two hours?

    What made me even more sick was their comment in a letter to us and others telling about the “holiday” and meeting the birth mom. “She didn’t seem emotionally affected by it at all, thankfully.”

    My stomach heaved, and I wanted to punch someone or shake them. How could you say that?!

    Since that time, I have completely re-thought my stance on adoption and have firmly come to the conclusion that it is morally wrong to adopt a baby a mother is giving up out of financial straits. That money you paid for the paperwork alone could be enough to change her whole life as well as many other mothers in her village.

    It is time we start caring about families… and not just building “our family”.

  9. Megan Elford

    Your’s is a perspective that more adoptive or potential adoptive parents need to hear! I wish they had given us things like this post to read in our adoption classes. It’s so important to approach it with an understanding of the loss that results in the need for adoption. Thanks for posting! Found you via #WASO.

  10. Kim Edwards

    Great first two comments.

    Yes, I have stepped in a few times, and given a little bit of support and a little bit of sobriety in the midst of adoption hype being pushed by the doctor/ medical personal and backing on the hype of pro adoption speak in our culture.

    Given I had just lost my son 6 years earlier (1987) and the question that kept repeating in my head was “why didnt anyone help me”, I had had time to decode all the personal pressures that capitulate a mother into considerating a desparate act of surrender.

    I’m very happy to say in all the situations, the mother chose to keep her child, with no regrets at all.

    One lovely girl, who was 28 at the time, 2 weeks after taking her son home described it as the best thing she had ever done (having a child) , after being head strong sure that she was going to surrender prior to birth. It’s the time of transition into becoming a mother, and time is needed to realise your motherhood with a new child, uninterrupted. The same mother ran into me 10 years later and threw her arms around me thanking me from stopping her make the hugest mistake in her life.

    I have met a son who’s mother carries the guilt of NOT adopting him and apologises for not adopting him. He is the happiest , most loved adult boy. Quite an incredible person. Yet his mother carries the guilt and apologies for not adopting (ie abandoning) him because she just couldnt let him go. Even though she’s been an amazing mother. (He is utterly loyal, adoring and respecting of her ). I was quite astounded. I can only guess the town social worker (and powers that be) must have done a great guilt hatchet job on her.

    What a culture when keeping and raising your child is seen as a bad and selfish thing.

  11. Lisa

    Kat, thank you for such an amazing blog. Your courage and authenticity have given a voice to the experiences of so many hurting adoptees, and aching moms who lost their children. The forum and community that you have created allowing others to share their feelings and perspective is so powerful– thank you for this labor of love.

    Your posts and the thoughtful comments of others have been extremely eye opening to me. I too had been “sold” on the myth of adoption as a “blessing” and positive thing. I am understanding now that it is often a tragedy (or collection of tragedies) for everyone involved, no matter how you slice it.

    I have a question for you and your readers: my husband, son (7) and I have recently become a foster family. Our main purpose is to be a safe place for kids and support bio families working towards reunion. I am also a therapist and have worked in community mental health, and have seen first hand how many services and how much support is offered to parents (mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, housing, financial support, education, and employment). As it should be!

    I also know that there are situations where parents are not able to do the work to be well and safe for their kids. (Often, sadly, due to the early wounds an traumas they endured). They still love their kids but they are not able to meet their needs or protect them.

    In my state parents have about a year to demonstrate their willingness to get it together, but if they don’t the powers that be begin looking for a permanent adoptive placement for the child or sibling group. This is to protect kids in foster care from having to endure the trauma of being moved around, not developing secure attachments, being relegated to a group home with paid caregivers, and aging out of foster care with no gamy support at all. (FYI many kids that go through this lifelong instability soon become homeless, and a huge percentage of incarcerated adults share this sad history.) The children deserve a loving “forever family” to provide lifelong stability and support of their first families are not able to.

    Ideally, the kids will be placed with family or kin. This is always the first choice of social workers and they work hard to find kinship placements. Many long term foster carers hoping to adopt the child they’ve fallen in love with have their hearts broken when the child is placed with distant relatives (who they may have little to know previous connection to). However, it is almost always in the best interests of the child to be with their “real” family as you and your readers know so well.

    However there are situations when that option is not possible either, due to lack of interest or ability from the bio family. In these cases the fostering parents are often asked to adopt, given that they have a loving connection with the child and that the child would not have to endure another move and loss.

    My husband, son and I are open to being the “forever family” to a child who really needs one. But I would like to know your opinion on adoption under these circumstances? Ideally the child would also maintain a relationship with their first family, but sometimes due to previous abuse, neglect and trauma it is not healthy for them to do so. (Ex, being made to visit with someone who physically or sexually abused them).

    As an advocate for adoptees, and someone who is so aware of the emotional and psychological consequences to a child from displacement and disruption, what would you advise adoptive families in this situation do to help support the healing and wellbeing of these children?

    I appreciate any wisdom and insight you all can offer.


    1. Kat Post author

      Hi Lisa, Thank you for comments. My apologies for such a late reply. I just now saw your note. I’ve had others ask the same question and you may get different responses from other adoptees than I am giving.

      Sure in a perfect world, the natural parents and family would step up for the child. Additionally, in cases where they don’t, the adoption would result in an adoption certificate, NOT a complete erasure of the child’s roots and family by issuing a new birth certificate stating that the child was born to the adoptive parents.

      Unfortunately, that isn’t the world we live in and we have to work with what exists.

      I’ve spoken out about domestic infant adoption. In that industry, infants are aggressively sought and their natural mothers are coerced into giving up their baby (as a disclaimer: not all). But that isn’t what you are speaking about. You’re describing an entirely different situation where the child’s safety is at risk by remaining in his/her natural family. In those cases, I fully support a child being placed with a family with the hope of being safe and loved. If the unsafe situation with the natural family doesn’t change during the given time period by the state, then I personally don’t have a problem with the adoption. (Again, just to restate that I hate our system of invalidating the original birth certificate, sealing it and manufacturing a false, amended birth certificate.)

      As a side point, I’m not a fan of the term “forever family.” Whether or not the natural family is safe or “good,” they are also the child’s forever family. The child is forever tied to the natural family by genetics, blood or whatever term a person feels comfortable using and most likely still loves his/her family despite what they may have been through. I wrote about the term: Forever Family.

      I hope this explains my perspective of foster care being different from domestic infant adoption.

      I wish you and your family all the best! – Kat


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