Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Infertility and Adoption Talk

A friend sent me the link to a May 2008 post at Anti-Adoption blog. The post discussed a comment from a blog reader who said, in part, "many, many infertile couples have NO desire at all to adopt. For us, adoption would only be a VERY LAST RESORT." (It's unclear whether the commenter is speaking as an adoptive parent).

Many adoptive parents commented most ably to say this person did not speak for them. What interested me the most, though, were the comments from adoptees who felt as they were growing up that they were their parents' "last resort" or "second choice:"
What adoptees know, what we grow up knowing deep in our hearts, the painful truth in that we ARE THE SECOND CHOICE. No matter how loved and cherished and valued we are in our adoptive homes, we weren’t the number one option…we were the consolation after fertility failed, after plan A fell through, after other options went bust.

It can be really hard for some adoptees to forget that for many of us, we were not our (adoptive) parents’ first choice. Because ALL THE LOVE IN THE WORLD can’t change the facts of how and why I came into my current family… and despite all the love in the world, there are still many days when I can’t help but feel like one big consolation prize.

I WAS second best. I WAS the last resort. I wouldn’t have come to them had their fertility treatments worked, had they been sucessful at having children of their own. As much as my amother tells me that she loves me, and has embraced me for my differences, as much as I love her, this isn’t something that love heals. This is my reality.

Infertility was not an issue for me; I adopted because I was single. I considered donor insemination for a short time, but really didn't think passing on my genetic blueprint would be doing the world or the child any favors! So we have the why-don't-I-have-a-daddy issue instead of the infertility issue.

I'm not looking to be inflammatory, or to suggest that adoption after infertility is in fact a "last resort" or "second best," or that any adoptive parent feels that way. But I've read enough to know that some adult adoptees feel that way. So, in the tradition of "Adoption Talk," I'd like some help from those who have discussed these issues with your kids. For those who did come to adoption after infertility, do you talk about it with your kids? How do you talk about it? At what age has your child asked questions about this? If you haven't talked about it, have you thought about how you will explain it? Please post in the comments, to build a reservoir of advice for those following in your shoes!


Lisa said...

I can understand how an adoptee would come to that conclusion, as there are those in our society who feel that adoption IS second best. We have met them in our lives! When I went to China, a government official said "you are still young, do you plan to have children of your own?" That was how the question was translated to me.

Recall the article I sent previously to you that said an infertile Mom was going to "bring up adoption gently" to her fiance. What was that?!

I'd like to say that even though a problem with infertility DOES open the door to adoption, it does NOT mean that the person who is adopted is "second best." Many people are uneducated on the topic of adoption UNTIL they adopt. I don't discount that some aparents may have serious issues post-adoption that affect their children, but so do some bioparents!

Like Malinda, I adopted as a single Mom. But then, I got married and had a baby biologically. My husband adopted our first child. So we had infertily AFTER adoption! We did have fertility treatments, and I was upfront with my daughter about them. She has shown no interest in the pregnancy or how it was accomplished since her brother was born. Occassionally it comes up, and I honestly answer her questions (even though they seem very vague - she is only 8 and doesn't know about sex yet). I assume that in adolescence her questions may get more detailed as her knowledge base on reproduction expands.

Mei-Ling said...

Like another (well-known) adoptive parent who blogs (not naming names), those of you who went and still visit the blog frequently will remember this quote:

"It doesn't seem to matter how you went into adoption. As soon as you admit you tried the IVF route, the odds are stacked against you."

There's also two things I wanted to point out. Warning: don't read if you're in a fragile mood ATM.

I've noticed a lot of adoptive parents originally commented a year ago about how they did IFV treatments for x months or x years. And then they said:

"Well, no, I didn't want to go through all those treatments initially, but now I am glad they failed. Because now I would not have my child. Because now I wouldn't have felt such a deep love and been given such a privilege of raising him/her."

Why does that always come after? Is there any possible way that "silver lining" could occur to the average person before going to the IVF route?

It's like what I said to commenter Meadow: "Sure, you love your child now more than anything else in the world. What about during the treatments? Would you have thought it was worth it then?" (she never got back to me on that one, it was over a year ago)

It does have a lot of societal pressure to go the "natural" way. And no, I don't consider adoption the "natural" way. It isn't natural. It is not as nature has indicated via eggs and sperm to create a fetus.

Someone once asked at Yahoo Answers, "Why do you think you are second best? Don't you realize your parents wanted you so badly that they chose you? Don't you realize how lucky you are?"

My answer?

First off, I love my adoptive parents. They have always been loving and caring and I do not regret my awesome childhood one bit. That said, let me explain something.

When they went to adopt a child, they did not specifically want a Taiwanese baby. They did not want Huang Mei-Ling born on July xx, xxxx. They did not specifically want the daughter of Huang Feng-Ying and Huang Shui-Chuan. They wanted a child. They did not necessarily want me at the beginning - how could they? They had never heard of me. In those first few months, I mattered most to my biological parents.

As much as my adoptive parents love - as much as we ALL consider ourselves family, in the truest sense of the word - those above facts cannot be denied.

Chinazhoumom said...

I have always said "our family is made of of you and me" and then I go on to explain how there are all kinds of families...and talke about extended family-gparents etc.. On fathers days at school (while I wa over thinking the whole thing) SHe was all - but mom I have a granddaddu - Yes you do...yes you do...
Works for us
Carol in FL

Anonymous said...

please see the UNICEF approved link >

a Tonggu Momma said...

We never tried any fertility treatments, so I never thought about it.

I will share that there was one moment when I felt like the total odd man out. I attended a waiting parents meeting and all of the women were standing in a circle talking about how many times they attempted IVF. I was very quiet. Then someone, point blank, asked me how many times we attempted IVF. I answered "none" and no one knew how to respond to me.

Lee said...

Our RE could not understand why we didn't try IVF (we did do IUI a few times). We wanted a child in our family, but biology wasn't a huge driver for us. I am adopted myself, so it's hard for me to know if I would have felt differently otherwise.

It never bothered me growing up or now that my mother and father were quite sad to learn they could not have biological children. I definitely felt secure in their love.

On the flip side, I always thought these things would be helpful as an adoptive parent, but now I wonder. Every adoptee feels quite differently about their experience, and adding the IA factor into it changes things as well. What if this is a big issue for my daughter? My experience and feelings don't 't necessarily prepare me for that...

Anonymous said...

I have never felt the desire to have a biological child. Never experienced "baby lust". I also never become pregnant after being married. At the age of 39, I finally felt ready to be a parent. I had two choices: pursue fertility treatment or adoption, and we chose adoption. Although I knew adoption was the second best option for any child we would adopt, I never felt that way myself.

Melissa said...

We did one round of IVF, hugely unsuccessful, and something that we wouldn't do again if we knew what we know now about real success rates. We've been very honest with J about the fact that we tried to have a natural child. She (at 8 yrs old) knows also that before the IVF attempt I was pregnant for a short while and miscarried. That fascinated her for a long time when she was about 6 yrs old, and I think she got all of her questions answered. I don't expect this particular issue to be problematic for our family, since she has already established that we would not have been her first choice as a way to build a family either! She would have preferred to grow up in China with her natural parents. But here we are, loving and taking care of each other, fulfilling our mutual desire to have and be a part of a family

Bump said...

Melissa you said - " I don't expect this particular issue to be problematic for our family, since she has already established that we would not have been her first choice as a way to build a family either! She would have preferred to grow up in China with her natural parents."

I just wanted to comment that I don't think any child at your daughter's age can definitively establish that you would not have been her first choice to establish a family. I would worry that if your child says that she is "fishing" for reassurance.

And, how could you know that her reaction now is not "problematic for your family"? At her age, this is hard to predict.

Just not sure...and please don't think I am trying to be critical. I am only going on my gut instinct based on what you wrote. I wonder if your child is saying one thing, but asking another (as is typical for her age).

Also, you said /implied she is "not first choice either." I wouldn't look at it your child's situation as a "second choice," but what life gave you and your family. There were a lot of "choices" made..infertility treatments, adoption, relinquishment by her birth parents.
Why does it have to be second choice? Your daughter's adoption happened and there you are, as you said, fulfilling your mutual desire to have a family.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I must comment on the original post.

Don't-tell-us-how-you-really-feel "Lori" said the following:

"Anti-adoption advocates hate infertile couples in general, seeing us as the problem. What they fail to realize is that many, many infertile couples have NO desire at all to adopt. For us, adoption would only be a VERY LAST RESORT.

"That’s right, birthmothers – your child would be a last resort for us, whether you like that or not. Your child is not the great prize you may think he is. What most of us want most is our own biological child!

"Thank God for advances in reproductive medicine. IVF success rates are improving all the time. I predict in the future there will be a lot fewer people adopting or fostering children, because they will be able to have their own child."

Anti-Adoption praised "Lori" for her unvarnished opinion, then went straight to the conclusion that this is how most a-parents truly feel. In a moment of watch-me-hate-myself-so-much-better-than-you-ever-could, Anti-Adoption opined that

"But what Lori brings up here is a fact that far too many adoptees already know…that we really ARE second best, we ARE the last resort, that our adopters really would have rather had their own."

False. False in my case. False in the case of so many other families. The nexus of hate and hurt is not a place where real stories--real motivations and values--can ever flourish, it seems. This is very sad and counter-productive. I am sooooo fucking sick of the over-generalizations.

travelmom and more said...

My husband and I are trying some very mild fertility treatments now, only because a second adoption is seemingly farther and farther away. We decided to adopt, instead of having biological children. But more than biology or altruism we wanted a child and adopting was how we created our family. I have no desire to have a biological child and never have, even now I don't long to get pregnant, I want my daughter to have a sibling. People often look at my husband and I and don't understand why we didn't try to have a biological child, our parents and friends questioned our reasoning. We are biological creatures and it is in our DNA to procreate so many don't understand those of us who choose to build our families differently. That said, through this process I have come to realize that building families is extremely personal and to be honest few families are planned. Families are built in many ways, few of which include two people who plan to have x number of children and live happily ever after.

Sheri said...

While I don't agree with the expletive, I do agree with osolomama's statement: I, too, am so very very SICK of the over-generalizations.

Everyone's route to parenthood is different - and should be respected. My daughters are absolutely not second choice - I yearned for them, struggled for them, and love them beyond any measuring.

I started pursuing adoption and fertility treatments simultaneously - on the exact same day, Monday, November 4, 2002 (remember that date!) - because I awoke from a dream, determined to become a mother to two at age 44.5 regardless of what it took or how it happened.

I honestly never thought anyone would let me, a single woman, adopt - I didn't even think it was an option. And, to be blunt, I'd spent so much of my youth trying NOT to get pregnant, it seemed to me to be the fastest way to parenthood.

I was grossly ignorant about adoption at the time, and thought my only real chance at parenthood was via pregnancy... but in my heart and my dreams, there was always a little Asian girl holding my hand as we walked down a sidewalk.

It was 14 Jan 2005, after more than 2 months and hundreds of hours spent in research and emailing and phone calls, before I found an adoption agency with a Singles quota for China. Because I was concerned that something would happen, and international adoption would suddenly cease, or I would somehow be disqualified, and because I wanted two children and time was short, I continued with the infertility treatments. In May 2003, my dossier was accepted in China.

Being under the care of a reproductive specialist meant that for the very first time, someone actually paid attention to my symptoms and pains... and I was finally diagnosed with severe endometriosis and had surgery (April 2003) - making me pain-free for the first time in my adult life: a priceless gift I thank God and my RE for often, even today, 6 years later!!

I eventually had 4 IUIs, but, busy at work, I literally FORGOT to order the sperm before the deadline one Friday in January 2004, and so had to cancel the IUI scheduled for the following Tuesday, 20 Jan 2004.... but - coincidentally?! - on the morning of 20 Jan 2004 I got The Call - which is how it happened that, at the same time I had previously been scheduled for an IUI, I was instead sitting at my adoption agency's conference room table gazing at the photographs of my new daughter, the most beautiful baby I had ever seen... who entered her orphanage, only a few hours old, on (pause here for drumroll) November 4, 2002 (scroll up if you've forgotten the significance of that date).

And - that was the end of my fertility treatments. I never looked back - except to say Thanks! for the absence of pain.

Because: my dream came true.

My daughters will have their own dreams, of course!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the expletive. Adoptees dragging out these shock-value statements by a small group of insensitive adoptive parents is like gay men and lesbians poring over the tracts of Paul Cameron and other anti-gay zealots and claiming them to be representative of public opinion just so they can say, see, see, see how worthless we really are to you. Ironically, what they are realy saying is, see how worthless I am to myself.

This is a wake-up call to people in pain: get help and get over it. I don't care how long it takes. Do it.

Diane said...

Lori does not represent me as an AP any more than Madonna or Angelina do. Contrary to her belief-that we all want to replicate ourselves and adoption is always a second choice-I chose adoption first and never attempted to get pregnant.

With that said- does the fact that my kids were chosen first diminish their profound losses? I don't think so. Just last night I was told by my six year old- Good Night! You are my FAVORITE mommy! (sigh.) and my ten year old wanted me to explain abortion procedures to her so that she could figure out if she was born because it was just easier than her first mother aborting her. (double sigh.)

In no way are Lori's statements a window into all APs inner thoughts. IVF or no IVF.

Melissa said...

Bump, my child is *very* precocious, and she figured out very early exactly what she lost in the adoption process. She loves us dearly, but her preference would be to have been raised by her birth family. I don't understand what fishing there would be in that. She's sure of her very secure place in our family.

I admit I regret writing that we don't expect problems with this, because expressing any confidence like that is sure to raise red flags with many readers, justifiably so. I suppose it would be more accurate to write that there are other issues that we expect will be more of a problem than this one in the years ahead.

Finally, "choice" is probably not the right word. Adoption was the next step on our flowchart toward a family. Adoption was her next step on a flowchart toward a family. I'm not putting a value judgment on it; it's just our mutual history, a fact of our shared life. In our particular case, all members of the triad experienced loss of the natural parents or children we might have had, and our daughter actually found it reassuring that we had lost something along the way in this, too.

Mei-Ling said...

[This is a wake-up call to people in pain: get help and get over it. I don't care how long it takes. Do it.]

I find it interesting that usually only adoptees are told something along these lines.

That's not to say that if ALL we ever did was complain, there'd be good reason for someone to tell us to shut up.

But some of us are making some very valid points.

If we should get over our pain, does that mean mothers who relinquished should get over their pain? Does that mean siblings who have been separated should get over their pain? Does that mean adoptive parents who experience infertility should get over their pain?

Do you see what I'm getting at...?

Mei-Ling said...

P.S. I don't totally agree with Lori - with the whole "adoptees would be the very LAST resort" because it sometimes just isn't true.

But when an adoptee reads, over and over again, about how couples try to conceive the natural way, about how they tried to x years to get fertility treatments, the evidence points to reason that adoption certainly isn't often the very first choice by which to create a family.

Anonymous said...

Who said your points weren't valid? One specific over-generalization was mentioned. Nobody said just adoptees--that's why I mentioned gay men and lesbians. People who are in so much pain that they exhibit the types of behaviours I alluded to, including distorting the truth so they can keep hitting themselves and other people with their enormous pain-bricks should simply get help. Pain is not an end in itself; beyond a certain point it is neither helpful nor healthy. People who wear it as a badge of honour aren't interested in reaching our or educating either--that's the real loss.

Sheri said...

Sooner or later there comes the point where you have to choose to stop living in the past and embrace the present and future - or live your life wallowing in regret for things that can't be changed.

We're all mortal, we're all human.

We all have pain in our lives.

In my case: I got therapy, got on anti-depression meds, and continue to block the jerk every time he reaches out to me again. I would not be where I am today without the pain I suffered, and bottom line: I LIKE where I am today. I wouldn't go so far as to thank him (on the contrary - I routinely curse him), but on the whole, I've put it behind me, and remade my life twice over DESPITE him.

That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger, ya know?!!

Bump said...

Melissa -

Your clarification makes sense, and I hope I didn't come across as jumping to conclusions. It still just strikes me as unusual at your daughter's age (even as a precocious child), to already have the decision made that she'd rather be in China as a first option than with the family she has always known.

Kind of off the subject of this blog topic, but I'd like to share with you:

My daughter (same age as yours) "seems" to have minimal interest in her Birth Family, but all interest in heritage. She is very visual and left-brained, and I wonder if the lack of information on her Birth Parents causes that reaction. But, knowing that I don't feel a strong connection to her Birth Parents (I don't know them), I hope she hasn't somehow picked up on how I feel. I am in a neutral position, following her lead. I have never told her that and actually tried on many occassions to get some Birth Parent conversation going. Even got that great workbook recommended on this blog.

I hope you can see the parallel I am drawing - the old cliche "children learn what they live." Could it be that you, the parent, shared this belief with her and she kept it in her heart? I am not being judgmental, just rolling the topic around in my brain a bit.

malinda said...

I would think that virtually ALL adoptive parents would deny that their adopted child is second-best, even if adoption was a second choice after failed fertility treatments. That's why I didn't find it particularly interesting to revisit that portion of the post at Anti-Adoption.

What really struck me was that ADOPTEES said they felt second best, when I doubt that their a-parents actually saw them as second best.

My intention with this post was to solicit some ideas of "best practices" to keep our children from internalizing that feeling of "last resort" or "second best" from the fact that their adoptive parents first tried to become pregnant before deciding to adopt.

What can we learn from adult adoptees on this point? What advice do been there/done that adoptive parents have for us?

Feel free to discuss any topic you like in the comments; I'm just pointing out what I think the more productive discussion could be!

malinda said...

Mei-Ling is having some posting problems, and asked me to post this in response to Sheri & osolomama:

"Sooner or later there comes the point where you have to choose to stop living in the past and embrace the present and future - or live your life wallowing in regret for things that can't be changed."

Yes, I agree. It makes sense because if one spends too much time living in the past, they cannot enjoy the present and future.

However, there is very little recognition in society at large for the loss aspect of adoption. I'm not saying everyone should always be mourning, suggesting that would be ridiculous as one cannot always be grieving. But there is a very large fundamental part of adoption which requires loss & grief, and that generally goes unacknowledged. When it is acknowledged, it is often - not always - accompanied by "We ALL have pain. Get over yourself."

Yes, we do all have pain. Different situations, different person to deal with, different crosses to bear, so to speak. But we aren't all told "get over yourself."

Anonymous said...

I think we live in a society in which people are constantly told to "get over it" regardless of the situation or experience. People just have seem to have a limited amount of patience for people who are grappling with emotional traumas that can't be "solved" in a week or two. I'm not trying to say that the loss and grief that adoptees feel is just the same as other painful things that happen in life, but I just haven't noticed that people have all that much empathy or understanding for most people going through a difficult time. At least that's been my experience, maybe other people feel differently.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Got sidetracked off the "second best" issue and how helping our children not internalize that concept after reading Mei Ling's comment. Malinda -- I think that is an excellent point of discussion, and I would certainly like to hear what adult adoptees have to say about it. I wonder, though (just wondering, so don't flame me!!), is it really possible for a child not to internalize feeling second best just given the fact that their biological parents did not keep them? That is such a powerful event/trauma in their life. I certainly hope not, but sometimes I really worry about how much impact you can have on what children think and feel. That despite your best efforts, they'll feel that way anyway. Again, that being said, I would really love to hear from adult adoptees on this.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely appreciate the pain that human beings are capable of enduring. I am no stranger to it myself. My parents died when I was young, and I've lost half my siblings. My niece--my sister, in essence--died in 1993. My best friend and my daughter's godfather died four years ago, a pain I also watched my daughter endure. And that's just scratching the surface.

But here's the deal. You can climb in the coffin with these folks and kiss your life goodbye--this includes, of course, alientating everyone around you by making them miserable because your life's work is to remind the world and yourself how much p-a-i-n you're in at every turn--or you can just let it be. This has NOTHING to do with what society does or does not say about pain. And this has nothing to do with working to reform bad or corrupt systems. This is about whether you will--ultimately--choose to live or die. To those who have been deprived of family, here's one brutal message: get other family. Surround yourself with the people you love and who love you and let the rest rest. You have no control over it.

Melissa said...

Bump, here's how adoption has been talked about in our family: From the beginning (so that would be when she was 1.5 yrs old), her bedtime story was frequently the story of her life (age appropriate, of course). Beginning with her birth, not with her being adopted. No value judgments, no "we love your birth parents", none of the "we were meant to be", etc. Just the story, with a lot of "we don't know why" in it. Even now, she often asks for this sort of bedtime story.

So, yes, I guess our style of "adoption parenting" means that her birth family has always been part of the story. She had a lot of grief around age 4 about the fact that we don't know who they are, that we don't even know if they're alive and OK. She processed a lot of this through artwork, and she even wrote and illustrated a "memory book" (her words) at age 4 that depicted her abandonment. That was a really intense time for her, and we worked through a lot of those raw feelings at that young age. So her understanding of adoption (and race, since that has always been on the conversation table, too) is very, very mature for her age.

Malinda, to address your original question... There were options available to all of us, and we sorted through those and made decisions that matched our situations. What has worked for us so far in avoiding the enumeration or judgment of those options is simply telling the story honestly. J already gets it that people have an instinct to conceive--she talks about having children some day, and sometimes that is her first choice and sometimes she thinks she might like to adopt. Lately, adoption has won out because she thinks childbirth looks like it just hurts too much! :) At other really serious times, she draws herself as a mom and depicts a daughter who matches her. It seems like it's OK with her that we tried that first, too.

Anonymous said...

Just want to add about the Bump-Melissa conversation that my child also shares very little emotion about/interest in her birth family at this stage. I keep saying I'm getting ready with the info when she's ready for it. Gradually, little by little, it develops. I don't *launch in* if you know what I mean. I just try to receive every statement she makes with the utmost respect and understanding, giving her whatever space she needs to expand on stuff or not.

My daughter is also fascinated by any stories I have of her foster family or when we first met.

joy said...

osolomama said:

I am sooooo fucking sick of the over-generalizations.

Oh honey you know what I am sick of?

Adoptive parents who have sanctimonious attitudes.


Demanding that people "get over" their pain on your time-table. That is a very entitled opinion.

The let me hate me more than you hate me is a mischaracterization you have no business making.

The stigma of being an adoptee is not a casual or one time thing. For you to be so flip because it doesn't speak to your agenda is just quite self-absorbed.

Why don't you take your own advice and get help now?

Mei-Ling said...

"You can climb in the coffin with these folks and kiss your life goodbye--this includes, of course, alientating everyone around you by making them miserable because your life's work is to remind the world and yourself how much p-a-i-n you're in at every turn--or you can just let it be."

osolomama, I am not sure if you addressed this directly to me, or if you meant it in general since you think it could possibly apply to me as well.

TruFax: A blog is not necessarily representative of one's thoughts, actions and perspective 24/7.

I find it kinda funny about how people are like "Well you can't undo your adoption so get over it. You can't keep wallowing for yourself day after day."

And then I say "Well, how would you know that? Do you know me personally?"

"No, I've seen it on your blog. All you do is whine and complain and woe is me."

"... you do realize that I have more than one blog, right? That my adoption blog is not the sum of my life nor every thought and action I do ALL the time?"

That assumption actually kinda makes me want to LOL.

"This has NOTHING to do with what society does or does not say about pain."

In the adoption world, actually, I think that message differs.

"To those who have been deprived of family, here's one brutal message: get other family. Surround yourself with the people you love and who love you and let the rest rest. You have no control over it."

Translation: Mourn for them, then get over it and find other family to be with.

Yes, that is brutal. Did anyone say that to you whenever you mentioned you missed your deceased family?

Were you expected to get over it, or did people have the expectations that even though you CAN get over it, it doesn't mean that such a traumatic event DOES NOT hurt or sting every once in a while?

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's just free advice "honey". Human beings have the right to make any observation they want.

Mie-Ling, I did find other family; I had to. And not just because people died. My post was not specifically directed at you.

joy said...

It is not advice, it is judgment and condemnation about something you know nothing about.

"Get over it, and get over it now" to make me happy, is the epitome of the selfish adopter.

Not that all people who adopt are like that. Certainly as you illustrate, some are. As you say, to each their own, unfortunately you have a dependent adoptee so it is not really just about you, *GASP*

mama d said...

How can we expect to our children to find a place beyond the label "second best" if we insist on using labels like "Don't-tell-us-how-you-really-feel 'Lori,'" "honey" [when intentionally belittling], and "selfish adopter"?

joy said...

One more thought on the "get help now" comment.

That is made with the assumption that help is readily available for those with adoptee issues.

That is patently false. It is very difficult to face, for one thing dealing with the pain inherent in how the family who have known and have loved i.e. the adoptive seems to question the very foundation and connectedness you want to preserve. That again is a generalization, not all adoptees want to preserve their ties, but I would hazard to guess most, myself included.

As Jennifer Frero (sp?) said "Talking about my adoption is the most dangerous thing I have done" That resonated with me and I am sure countless others.

Help, validation, understanding and comfort is pretty rare to come across for the adoptee wanting to examine their situation.

Mei-Ling said...

"That again is a generalization, not all adoptees want to preserve their ties, but I would hazard to guess most, myself included."

Yes, following this comment, I would like to chime in that I'm one of the adoptees who'd wish to kept all adoptive ties connected.

["Talking about my adoption is the most dangerous thing I have done" That resonated with me and I am sure countless others.]

I don't believe in fate.

My a-parents do. They believe it was "God's Will" for me to be adopted.

My question is: how do I speak openly and honestly about my perception when I know damn well it will shatter their illusion about being a family THROUGH adoption?

Well, sans hurting them, I don't.

It's sort of like this: "No, you weren't meant to be separated from your mother, but unfortunately bad things happen, so don't you realize that it was a good thing you could be adopted since your parents couldn't take care of you? Clearly if your mother couldn't have raised you, we were meant to be your parents instead."

But don't you see... without the relinquishment, my adoption would NOT have occurred. The two are interlinked irrevocably, and that's where my frustration towards my a-parents and many other adoptive parents comes in.

People like to gloss it up, cover it with embellishment and say "it was Fate." It means they don't want to face facts. Unfortunately we cannot make them face facts either.

Bad things happen. It doesn't mean adoption was MEANT to happen. It doesn't mean tragedy was MEANT to occur so that thousands of baby girls could be "exported." It is fortunate that these baby girls are being raised in loving families. It is NOT fortunate that abandonment had to cause this TO happen. Does anybody see what I'm trying to convey here?

It's like this analogy: Well imagine if a man's wife dies. He loves her dearly and she dies in an accident. He mourns for her for a few years and then moves on with his life. He eventually comes across wife #2, falls in love with her completely.

Question: Does that mean wife #1 was "meant" to die JUST so he could meet wife #2? Does that mean wife #1 was MEANT to die in an accident so he could have this "life experience", "teach others" and eventually see that he could achieve "more" happiness once he found wife #2?

It is the same in adoption - except that babies can't choose.

And then they are told "be grateful" "get over it" "get some counselling." Or "talk to your a-parents about this."

But what if our views do not mirror our a-parents? What if our views would hurt them? What if they only had the "best of intentions"? Is that enough?

Can't bite the hand that feeds you, after all.

mama d said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mama d said...

[edited to make an open-ended question]

@ Mei-Ling: Thank you so much for posting here about an aspect of your a-parents' motivation for adoption ("They believe it was 'God's Will' for me to be adopted."). From what I've been able to gather, watching and reading adoption stories, when APs refuse to acknowledge that adoption is a selfish act (as in "I wanted a baby") it goes hand-in-hand with refusing to acknowledge their child's ethnicity, cultural history, grief, trauma, etc. Again, this is my perception and a simple synthesis of many stories.

So, I ask because it brings us back to topic and because I honestly want to know: What do you believe the impact would be if, "to keep our children from internalizing that feeling of 'last resort' or 'second best,'" APs took personal responsibility for our adoption decisions?

(I have other questions, but don't want to define the parameters of your answer by asking them all now.)

Mei-Ling said...

[What do you believe the impact would be if, "to keep our children from internalizing that feeling of 'last resort' or 'second best,'" APs took personal responsibility for our adoption decisions?]

I think for *some* adopted children, the fact that their a-parents came to adoption as a non-first choice (eggs & sperm being the 1st choice) just can't be glossed over. It can't be made "untrue", no matter how many times a-parents will insist that their child ended up being the best thing to happen despite IVF or whatever.

I'm not saying this to condemn anyone who reads here or who - on instinct - gets the defensive knee-jerk. I'm saying it as a matter of truth. Those who are infertile and who wanted a child via the "natural" way who turned to adoption *after* seeking treatments should not pretend. I'm not saying that lying about adoption being the "after" option considered is necessarily a smart thing to do in front of a young child. But I think to say "Well my child isn't second-best. NEVER ever."

You're right. Your child is not second-best now. Were they first-best to begin with? Rhetorically, how many parents consider adoption first before attempting IVF, before attempting to become pregnant, before seeking any sort of treatment at all? (This isn't a real question)

Not many.

There are some out there who do. There are some out there who never considered having a biological child and always wanted to adopt.

I'm not saying to "deny" your love for your child, either. I don't doubt you all love your children to the ends of the earth and back.

I'm saying it ended up BEING an option for most people. But it didn't START out that way for most. And yes, I do use "most" because the most natural way to have a family is eggs & sperm.

It's kinda like what adoptee Sang-Shil said. Sure, people say adoption worked out in the end. Sure, bad things happen and people are fortunate to become a family because of that. And she remarked that oftentimes, the ones who are declaring "Well it all worked out anyway" are the ones who adopted.

This is the post I am referring to:

"I imagine that most people who have finished building their families, no matter how those families were built, would say that things worked out in the end, and that the end is what matters — that in this case, “last” is “best.” Within our context of post-infertility adoption, “last” may actually be best — from the perspective of the adoptive parents. From the perspective of the adoptee, however, things are less clear.

To say that “it all worked out” for us is to speak FOR us, and many of us have been speaking for ourselves for quite a while now. However, we’re not always saying what people want to hear."

Mei-Ling said...

["But I think to say "Well my child isn't second-best. NEVER ever."]

My bad. I need to learn how to write out long responses, edit, and then FINISH editing.


mama d said...

Thank you!

Melissa said...

Thanks, Mei-Ling, for your insight *and* for your thoughtful reply to Zoe's "It's not fair!" comment. I'm also following your blog, though I came too late to the game to request PW access, and I want you to know that I pump a fist and whisper a "yippee!" each time you conquer a challenge in your journey.