Sunday, November 30, 2008


Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. (More on what that might mean for this blog tomorrow.) I figured I should end the month with a few words about my feelings about the institution of adoption.

Long-time readers of this blog already can guess the general tenor of those feelings. Over the last year and a half, I have become even more negative about adoption. I used to think of it as something of a necessary evil that was treated by some people as a positive thing.

I long believed that what was needed was education. People needed to understand that adoption causes issues for the children who are relinquished. That we, as a society, should not be recommending adoption, but rather finding ways to help children who go through adoption. Above all, I wanted pro-life people to quit advocating adoption as an alternative to abortion. Their comments indicated a complete lack of appreciation of how adoption affects children. I thought that if adoptees could find a voice, and speak to the issues that adoption raises, we might change our approach to this very complicated social arrangement.

Since starting my reunion, and finding other adoptees, I've begun to despair. I quickly realized that I was behind the times. Other adoptees have been speaking out and trying to educate for years. Others have been advocating for equal rights for adoptees. In a way, that realization was made possible by another symptom of my adoption. I was isolated as an adoptee. I knew no other adoptees. I had no one to talk to about adoption (in a non-threatening environment). So I didn't know what other adoptees thought about this.

Upon finding others, and finding that they had, at least some of them, been working on these issues for years, I became discouraged. For it seemed that society in general had little interest in hearing about what happens to adoptees. Indeed, a whole movement (pro-adoption and anti-adoptee) was in full swing to keep birth certificates sealed from adoptees and to continue encouraging unfettered adoptions.

Further, the resistance to changing adoption, to hearing about the problems, I have seen and heard from those I have talked to about adoption made me wonder if it is possible to really bring about the necessary changes in adoption. Society seems too firmly entrenched in its notion that adoption is an uncomplicatedly good thing

It has brought me back to wonder what we are trying to fix. As long as adoption is seen as a way to create families, rather than as a way to help children in need, we are going to have these problems. There is disincentive to talk about the problems facing adoptees, and little interest in correcting those problems. We continue to act as though adoption should be treated as "normal," when it is anything but.

(In saying that adoption isn't normal, I do not intend to cast aspersions on adopted families. But if we pretend it's normal, we overlook the real challenges that adoptees and their families face. It is not to diminish the value of those relationships. It is simply to point out that an adoptive family is going to differ in significant and important ways from a family formed through biology.)

In the end, I have begun to wonder whether it makes sense to even try to fix adoption. I have always admitted that something needs to be done for children in need of families. But adoption, and society's attitudes toward it, encourage some of the biggest problems. Adoptees can have abandonment issues. Their identity is stripped from them. They can suffer from divided loyalties. The resistance to seeing adoption in its correct light is great in our society. Maybe it would be better to do away with adoption and find other ways to help children in need.


maybe said...

Tweaking adoption around the edges will not work - it needs massive overhaul, or even elimination.

AdoptAuthor said...

May I suggest you rad:
The Stork Market: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry, which offers precise suggestions.