When someone outside of adoption says that adoption is best for the child, that it's a good decision (or something similar), it's very annoying. I've had enough pablum for one life-time. But it's also not surprising. Naivete and ignorance run rampant in our society when it comes to adoption. However much it might annoy me, it doesn't surprise me.
But when I hear it from a first mother, it really tears me up inside. I would think first mothers would understand that this is not the best thing for the child. That part of me that hurts from adoption doesn't want to hear women who have relinquished say that they know it was the right thing.
I have never, to my knowledge, felt angry at my first mom for relinquishing me. I know she was doing what she thought she had to do. And she has never told me that she "did the right thing" by giving me up. (She might feel that way. She might not. I'm not sure.)
But when I hear other first mothers say it, I feel hurt, and maybe even a little anger. Whether or not things turned out for the best, it seems dismissive of the pain and loss experienced by adoptees.
The more I have thought about this, though, the more I've tried to understand this reaction. I cannot possibly know what it's like to relinquish a child. And it strikes me that this attitude (that it was the right decision) is a defense mechanism. That doesn't mean it's never true (sometimes the right decisions lead to painful consequences). It's just that it must hurt to give up a child, and it may provide some consolation to believe that the child is better off.
As much as I don't want to hear it, maybe I shouldn't begrudge first mothers this consolation. I don't know.
But there is another wrinkle that has occurred to me while I've thought about this. I worry about the impact of this attitude on expectant mothers who might be considering adoption. Whatever adoptees feel about this, whatever first mothers need to tell themselves, I don't think this is a good message to send to expectant mothers. We should not be selling adoption as the best decision for the child. We should be trying to find ways to help mothers and children stay together.
First mothers likely don't want to hear that adoptees do not share the view that adoption was the right decision. And adoptees likely don't want to hear that there may be circumstances in which adoption was the best (though I suspect there are far fewer of these situations than people typically acknowledge). I know I don't.
I'm trying to find some equanimity about this whole thing. I don't want to deny the truth of first mothers. Just as I don't want my truth denied by others.
This attitude is the first thing that has really driven home the difference between adoptees' perspectives and that of (some) first mothers. Just another danger of the minefield that is adoption.