Thursday, March 23, 2006

Finding Balance

I met with the adoption group again last night. I am amazed every time at what a diverse group we are. I really do like everyone a lot, even if I don't necessarily agree with them all the time. But I am learning a lot.

Last night the topic was talking to your kids about being adopted. One woman told us that her son's birth mom has the same first name as a member of her extended family and for that reason, she hasn't told her son his birth mom's first name. She said that it just bothered her and she didn't want him to think of his birth mom every time they talked about this family member. He asked her what his birth mom's name was once, and she told us that she "danced around the question" and told him to remind her and ask again when they got home. That was over a year ago, and she proudly said "and he never brought it up again". That story made me unbelievably sad, because I feel like I have a pretty good guess of what went through the kid's head. He probably wondered about it for a few months, finally got up the courage to ask, his mom got visibly upset about it (even though I'm sure she tried her best to hide it) and he will never bring it up again because no kid wants to see their mom upset. I can't even explain how sad that makes me. I felt like I was in some other world listening to this story - it seems so wrong to me that someone would not only do this, but tell other people about how they did it.

Another story came up where a mother knew information about her son's birth family - that he had an overweight uncle - and she said "but of course, I haven't told him about that because he's a little overweight and I don't want him to know". I guess that I just don't understand what the harm is in someone knowing that. Keeping information that may seem worthless to an adoptive parent, but is priceless to an adoptee a secret doesn't do anything except maybe build up a wall between the parent and child when the information finally comes to light. You have no idea how upset, hurt and angry I will be if I someday find out that my parents know more about my history than what they've told me. In fact, I can't think of a single thing in the world that would make me angrier.

An adoptive mom shared last night that she thinks of her child's birth mom every Mother's Day and birthday. It had never occurred to me that maybe my mom also thinks about my birth mom sometimes. It was good to hear her perspective on that.

I am trying hard to see things from the adoptive parents' perspective. I won't lie, though, it's nearly impossible for me to understand them, much in the same way that they will never really be able to understand what its like to be adopted. I just think that keeping secrets and being motivated by fear is not something that you want in a relationship. To me, keeping the circumstances surrounding my birth a secret and making it a taboo subject somehow implied that it was something shameful and wrong, even though no one ever told me that. Someone told a story of a friend of theirs who had a teenage daughter that was adopted. One day while they were gone, she snuck into the files and found all of her information and her parents caught her. I think it is awful that words like "snuck" and "caught" have to be used to describe someone who just wants to know where in the world they came from. I hate that that poor girl had to feel like she was doing something wrong by wanting to know about her past - no one should have to feel that way about themselves.

Anyway, I think the meetings are going well - just trying to find that balance of being able to share my opinion without claiming to be an authority on the situation and at the same time not offending everyone - it's a hard balance to find.


Blogger stacy said...

Goodness, those stories make me sad about the adopted parents because I totally understand. I just don't GET the secret part. Open and honest is totally the way to go. I really think before a-parents adopt they need to require more education or counseling...SOMETHING. I just feel like us, as adoptees our voice is lost sometimes.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your sentiments exactly. I also think that in regard to information about ourselves, we are always treated as the child we were when adopted. It is like we can't be trusted with the information, even as we head into our thirties/forties and beyond. I don't think adoptive parents realise how any minute bit of information, any trivia is precious to us. My adopted mum didn't deliberately keep any info from me, but at times almost casually remembered something else, something that I would have given my soul to know earlier.


9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

perhaps you should print out this post and take it to your next meeting. i really think the adoptive parents would benefit from your viewpoint. after all, they should love their children enough to give them what they need even though it might hurt themselves.
the little boy who is a bit overweight might benefit from knowing that he is not alone, that someone in his gene pool has the same characteristic.

"She said that it just bothered her and she didn't want him to think of his birth mom every time they talked about this family member." this particular statement bothers me immensely. note . . . it bothered HER (not the child) and SHE didn't want him to think about his birth mom. . . since when is adoption supposed to be about what the adoptive parents want? isn't it supposed to be about what is best for the child? the saddest part is that she probably doesn't even realize how selfish this might sound to other people.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous christine said...

that is so sad that the adoptive mom thinks that by not revealing her son's birthmom's name will somehow keep her son from thinking about her. it won't and it hasn't. it is impossible to completely separate the birthmother from a child; she will always be a part of that child regardless of how often or not the child thinks or mentions her out loud. if i were at this group (and i'm not saying that you should do this, this is just my little hypothetical script) i would encourage her to disclose all the info she had available about the birthmom, and ask what her son thinks about it. i would hope that the subject of birthparents could be a open subject, that has no secrecy or shame and can be discussed at any time.

8:43 AM  
Blogger said...

Adoptive parents don't own the children and they don't own that information. It's stealing when you withold information about the original family members. The adoption fear factor does a lot of damage.

8:36 AM  
Blogger HeatherRainbow said...

Um... in terms of your group... don't you have a group near you that is focused on adoptees? I just mean, that as a support group, it seems that the support that moms and adoptees need is different from that of an adoptive parent, and I wonder are your needs being met? Especially as a person who is searching?

3:51 PM  
Blogger everyscarisabridge said...

No, I don't have a group that is focused on adoptees, but I am OK with that right now. I have a supportive husband, a great group of friends and I find a lot of encouragement reading other adoptee's blogs. Even writing on my own blog is really helpful.

My husband and I plan to adopt, so it's great to be able to visit with people who have recently gone through the process - we are learning a lot and hopefully they are learning some things from me, too =)

5:28 PM  

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