I've wanted to write a new post for a while now, but I have had a hard time figuring out what to write about. So, I think I'm going to talk about what adoption is and isn't and how our perceptions and how we have changed through the process.
Recently, I've felt very convicted on the point that the goal of adoption is not to give us a child, but exactly the opposite, to give a child in need a home and a family. I think that most people (us included when we started the process, to be completely honest) start out looking at adoption as a means to get a baby. And yes, adoption can accomplish that and should accomplish that, but the goal should not be to give parents a baby, but to give a baby parents. And when people look at adoption as a means to get a baby that's when adoption can be seen as unethical and to me, it can look like "baby shopping." When people look at adoption for self service they often look for what they think is best for them. Example, when you adopt you fill out a preference sheet with preferences ranging from everything to race, mother's background with drugs and mental illness, babies with special needs, age of child, and everything in between. Now, I do think there are situations to say no to, if you don't have financial means to support a baby with known special needs or if you live in an area where your child would be the only one of a certain race then those are things to consider for the child's well-being. But when an adoptive parent says they want a blonde, blue-eyed, perfectly healthy girl from birth, in a completely closed adoption where the mother's family has no history of any illness, disability, or drug/alcohol use, that to me looks like baby shopping. And I also think that's hard to explain to a child that they were chosen based on their birth mother's merit, and that can make a child feel like they need to live up to the fact that they were "chosen" for such reasons.
Now, we have learned all of this by going through the process, if you asked me at the beginning of adoption I would have said I wanted a completely or relatively closed adoption, a new born only, race would not have mattered, but some of the other issues would have. But I was looking at adoption as a means for me to get the family I wanted, not give a child a family they need. And I think that is what makes all the difference. The babies who need to be adopted a lot of the time are the ones whose birth mothers smoked, who have a parent with a mental illness, who may have a baby with down syndrome or a hearing loss, who have a disability, or don't know who the birth father is. To disregard a baby whose birth mother has a past or who may have some obstacles to overcome does not serve the baby or the birth family, but only the parents and I think that can be selfish. I also think that most of the time a completely closed adoption on the side of the adoptive parents is selfish. Selfish out of fear- which is totally understandable. As I said, when we started we would have said we wanted a mostly closed adoption, because we didn't understand how positive open adoptions often are, and because we were afraid. We had to learn a lot to change our minds. Many times completely closed adoptions can hurt the adoptee - they don't know where they came from, they wonder why they were abandoned, they feel unloved by their birth family, and sometimes forgotten. Not always, of course, but sometimes. And of course closed adoptions sometimes are for the best interest of the child because of the situation the birth mother is in. Now, we are open to whatever our birth mother is open to, of course, depending upon the suggestion from our social worker and the pregnancy counselor. And this is because our view of adoption has shifted, from wanting to have a family, to wanting to give a family to a baby and possibly his/her birth family. We hope that the birth family will be part of our child's life in some form or another and that he or she will know that they are ridiculously loved by 2 families.
Needless to say, in June this post could not have been written, at the time I would have found a post about adoption being unethical offensive. And I did, I read articles from adoptees who felt burned by the system and cheated out of knowing their birth families and I did feel offended. Now I feel sad for them, and use their experience to learn from. Of course, there are adoptees out there who still don't agree with adoption, but just like any topic there are extremists who are best to listen to with a grain of salt.
I hope that no one feels "offended" by my post, but if you do, maybe that's a good thing, maybe it's conviction like it was for me. I also hope you know that this post is not to shame anyone, or make anyone feel guilty, it comes from a place of understanding and grace, because we used to be on the path to baby shopping. I just hope to educate, and help others learn from our experience.
Thanks for listening, and as always, if you have questions or comments please contact us anytime.
Kristen & Adam