Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"False Guilt"

I was flipping through the book, Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, and came across this definition: "False guilt is the emotion we experience when something painful happens over which we had no control, but for which we feel responsible." The author goes on to say, "Children of divorce feel it, a widow visiting her husband's grave feels it, and adoptees of every age feel it."

I'm wondering, in light of our discussion of adoption guilt whether we should add one more to the list -- adoptive parents sometimes feel it.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

I think we do feel it, but not in the way adoptees do. We have the luxury of it coming in waves and also recognizing it while not having to directly deal with the pain against ourselves on a personal level (the loss). We have more "outs", it was not us that it happened to.

It comes when we see our child suffer and we cannot provide the answers. It comes when we realize, as you mentioned earlier, that we believed the propaganda of the adoption agencies that tell us programs are corruption free or that international adoption is the only and best option for the child. It comes when we finally come to see that we need to be advocates to end international adoption by helping those who find themselves unable to parent due to government restriction, poverty, and without resources that we may take for granted.

There will always be children who cannot be cared for by their bio parents, but we must as AP's be a voice to say we do not accept the lies and instead, be proponents of increasing domestic adoption in our children's respective home countries. There is a long wait for children in China by local families, it is the financial benefit of foreign adoption that trumps their wait. We can help to end this disparity by donating money for foster families and medical treatments and by stopping our own (as a society, obviously not individually) prejudices against "sn" children. There is a need in China for international sn adoption due to long held prejudices (but not in all cases), but there would be little to no need for nsn adoption if money was not involved.

I think the guilt comes when we see our part in the overall money machine, even if we were unaware or thought we were doing all the right things to not increase corruption or take advantage of a situation that needs reform and oversight.

I held a lot of guilt after we found out M's foster family tried desperately to adopt her (she is considered sn--although I hate the term as all children have sn, she just happened to be born with limb difference--and lived with them from 5 months to 25 months when we adopted her) but were told that they were not allowed. Of course this was not disclosed to us before or during adoption, only after we got back to the US. We also were lied to in that she never would have went back to the orphanage and could have stayed with her foster family until she came of age--their hope. I held so much guilt watching my little girl grieve, suffer, and need the comfort of her "mama"--not a short process and still has ptsd due to the way she was given to us, instead of transitioned along with her loss of her birthfamily, first orphanage, second orphanage, and foster family. My guilt was overwhelming for her foster family who had to let her go with the hope that we would stay in touch. The guilt was there for a very long time even though I was not given the truth.

It is only now that we have such a close relationship with her foster family and after the first long phone conversation I had with her foster mother when we both shed tears and could hardly speak trying to compose ourselves that I could let it go. She allowed that of me and so did I .

Is it false guilt, maybe. I can't say that M is better here than there, it is not something that can be measured. Of course we are better for her being in our lives and I hope her life is better for having us, but I never forget her losses. I will not allow myself to forget even though I do not have to dwell in guilt; she needs to be able to know and share her losses. Yes, her opportunities here are greater. Yes, she is doted on and given all the love we can bestow, but she was and is very loved by her foster family in China too. I cannot imagine my life without her and I cannot imagine the pain her foster family felt that day or the days that followed--I see it in their faces in their pictures and heard it in their voices.

Anyway I have gone on too long. I just think this topic is valid and should be discussed.