Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Adoptress" Letter

On an adult adoptee's blog, this letter from an adoptive mother:

I enjoy reading your blog and was hoping you wouldn't mind my asking you a question.

According to the laws of our and another country, I am an adoptress of two little girls. Now, I do NOT call myself a parent. I am NOT their mother and they are not allowed to call me "Mama" or "Mom" or "Mommy" or anything like that; I am Miss XXX and I am an adoptress. Likewise, my husband is NOT their father. Our parents are NOT allowed to call themselves grandparents and the girls are not allowed to call them as such. Our siblings are not allowed to call themselves Aunt or Uncle. We are NOT their "forever family".

Their mother is dead; she died giving birth to them. We have continued contact with their father and family, including siblings and uncles, in the country in which they were born; THEY are their forever family. We visit 4 times a year for 2 weeks at a time and are making preparations to move to that country so that they can grow up surrounded by their own culture and so that they can know their family. I am not naive enough to believe that this will, in any way, make up for having been removed from their country originally and it will in no way be the same as if they were growing up as natives, with their parents. I realized too late my mistake in wanting to raise a child (the adoption had been finalized, but we hadn't yet traveled) and will spend the rest of my life attempting to make up for it for these little girls. I wish I could undo the past, but I can't. Before we left the country with the babies, we met secretly with their father with our own interpreter and asked him to please take the babies back, that we would pay for all of the medical care that they needed and support his entire family for the rest of their lives if he would only take them back and raise them (it would have taken so little from us to make this possible, and we are not wealthy by any means). Sadly, he considered them expendable; five children were enough. If they had been boys, I'm sure it would have been a different story. And if their mother had survived, I'm sure she would have gladly brought them back to her bosom.

The problem we are having now is that these little girls, who are now 3 andhave been with us since they were 5 months old (they are twins), are starting to ask why they can't call us "Mommy" and "Daddy". They don't understand why nephews and nieces can call their grandparents "Grandma" and "Grandma", but we won't let them do so. They know they have a Daddy, they know they have brothers and sisters and uncles. We send letters and pictures
and drawings and there are photographs up all over the house. They know that they were "adopted". They know other "adopted" children via cultural events and ask why they call their adopters "Mommy" and "Daddy" but we won't allow them to do the same. They even know a foster child who calls his guardian "Mama".

Needless to say, we are not very popular in the "adoption" community, which is okay with me, but the girls are starting to wonder why they can never go to so-and-so's for a play date. Why some of the children are starting to tell them that their "Mommy and Daddy" don't want them playing with them because their adopters are "crazy". Even though we are only the adopters, we do love them and it hurts us to see them struggle with this. Sometimes, I want to cave and just say "it's just a name", but then I read yours, and others', blogs, and realize that it is NOT just a name and I want to honor that. I want to honor their mother. I want to honor their father. I bought the privilege of raising them (when I was doing it, I didn't think about it this way, as I had bought the story the agency gave us about why fees had to be charged, but I know now that I DID buy them). I bought the privilege of reading bedtime stories, kissing boo-boos, making cookies, doing their hair, teaching them to read. I don't need to be called by a name that I will never know (I've been in menopause since I was 13; I have premature ovarian failure and, instead of going through puberty, I got to have hot flashes). Don't get me wrong, if I COULD be a parent, I would love to be a parent. It just will never happen, and I was okay with that before I even graduated from high school. I did, however, want to raise children and thought that this would be an okay way to do it. I do know that I was wrong, dreadfully, horribly wrong, but I can't fix it. All I can do is try to do better for these girls and work to make sure that other children do not suffer from the naivete of adopters like myself, or even from the adopters who do realize what they are doing and try to pretty it up.

We are also not very popular in our family, who don't seem to understand why they are not allowed to take on names that don't belong to them. But, they are adults and they can deal with it. My only concern is for these girls. How can I help them around this issue? Do you have any ideas for "names" to call adopters that would respect the girls' family while at the same time be palatable to those, like yourself, who were taken/bought/stolen from their parents? They are starting to just want to be like everyone else, and I'm sure this will only become more difficult as they get older. What would have helped you understand this at their age? Am I contributing to the problem without seeing it? (I am only human and while I am trying, I make mistakes and will make plenty more before my time on this earth is through.) These girls didn't ask for this. In fact, they deserve so much better than this. I know I made the mistake, but is there anything I can be doing to help them?

I would be very thankful for any thoughts you may have and I support your work wholeheartedly. I believe that this system IS broken. It doesn't serve the children, and it doesn't serve the mothers. It only serves the adoption industry and adopters like myself. And I tell my girls that it was wrong, that my husband and I were wrong (in an age-appropriate way, of course; theolder they get, the more blunt I will become about what it was that I and my
husband did). I was just so naive. I remember learning from the social worker that their birth certificates would have OUR names on them, and I actually thought I could just ask them not to change the names of their parents, to leave them on there. It made no sense to me! I made color copies of their birth certificates and then changed the copies to put their parents' names back on there. I know that they aren't "legal" birth certificates, but they are the truth.

I am so sorry that anyone has to go through that which you and so many others have been.

OK, if you've read here long, you might think I'm pretty extreme in my insistence that my kids have two real moms, me and their birth moms. You might think we go too far to honor their first families. You might think me a little off plumb on the whole birth certificate thing. You might think we harp too much on heritage/culture/identity, going to the extreme of living in China for a time. But I only have one thing to say about this adoptive mom:

Crazy much?

Or am I off plumb with that judgment? I want your take, so I'm putting up a poll. Not cool to have told you my opinion before polling, but I just couldn't hold back! And please comment. I'd especially like to hear from adoptees and birth moms on this one.


Wendy said...

I think she needs to get help. A LOT of help! Okay...who the hell passed these people on their homestudy, post-placement visits, etc.
IF they were caring for the children for the first family this would make more sense, but it is CLEAR it was supposed to be a family situation. She is emotionally damaging these children further--yet another loss within their own family. You live as a family, I assume they care for the children as a family, but they won't call it a family. A horse is a horse is a horse. Yes, they should honor first parents. Yes, they should keep contact and visit. Yes, they should continue heritage learning. NO, they should NOT be isolating these children from normalcy. It is more than a name, absolutely and for that reason they should be calling her Mom. It does not take away their first mother by letting them feel a true part of the family they are living in.
M has her mother (first mother), her MaMa (foster mother) and Mom/Mommy=me. Three names for three women who love her and have had different roles to play in her life. What is so hard about letting the love of a child in? It seems more as if she does not want to parent, does not want to be a mom--if that is the case, she shouldn't be one, these children deserve much better.

Wendy said...

I hope that this is just a joke!

malinda said...

If it's a joke, it isn't my joke!

Anonymous said...

Malinda, you are spot on! CRAZY and very sad for the kids. Very, very sad. We went to the original blog and there is some serious insanity going on there.

Anonymous said...

I have seen this letter in the past, not sure where, but maybe a year ago or more. I think it is a potentially harmful way to raise those children... especially telling them at age 3 that the Adoptress (what a word) did the wrong thing in adopting them. How utterly confusing and sad for those little girls. If she had felt as strongly as she seems to say she does then she should not have completed the adoption. Their mother actually died, I think she herself would feel sad to think of her little girls growing uo without a 'Mommy'

I think she is being selfish, dealing with her possible feelings of guilt are one thing, but to project that onto her kids is unfair.

RamblingMother said...

I think it is totally sarcasm dripping through. Sometimes reading the adult adoptee blogs (not all but some) an adoptive parent (not all but some) feel the way this person who wrote this letter did. I see exactly what she is saying.

Just like the Scruggs family. They have been accused of abandoning their child again over finances and harming this adopted child because of a ridiculous CDC policy. Where is the same anger for the bio parents who abandoned the child in the first place due to finances (need a son to care in old age-financial, can't pay the fine the government institutes-financial, child is too sick can't afford the medical care-financial)? Or the anger at the foster family that turned this particular child back in because she caught TB, probably from an orphanage caregiver?

Why is it the adoptive parents are getting or seeming to get the blame for all the problems of the adoptive child? Corruption in the adoption industry-blame the families willing to pay the price to adopt.

It is almost like it the difficulty in being in a friendship of three because at some point one is going to be left out. Two will mostly gang up on one at some point and that one to be left out will change from time to time or issue to issue.

I still don't know the answer to giving all groups of the triad equal honor, respect and voice, and I wish to leave no one out, but it is difficult (shouldn't be but is). Seems to me there is an anti-adoption parent movement in the US not necessarily an anti-adoption movement. Because the thing is there will always be children who need families whose first families for whatever reason can't or won't take care of them.

I think the adoptress was trying to make a point and I totally got it.

madduchess said...

I read this letter last year and my jaw practically hit the floor. Just when I thought I'd heard everything!!! I am actually a wee bit suspicious of the author truly being an adoptive mother (oh, excuse me, adoptress YUCK). The tone seems to marry the same touch of malice towards adoptive parents that the author of the blog (where this letter appears) seems to own. I would not be a bit surprised to learn "thinking mama" (as she calls herself) wrote this bile herself. But lets just assume it's legit: this person would be nine kinds of crazy with the lowest self esteem I have seen in a while. To not allow "her adoptees" to call her mom is IMO, emotionally abusive. She doesn't allow anyone in the family to have the normal titles families have (dad, grandma, aunt), which isolates the children and hammers home an idea that these kids do not belong and perhaps are not even wanted. The message she is giving them is that they are an emotional burden to her and a big mistake. Considering she said that she begged the first dad to take them back and he declined because he didn't want them - well, to a child, the message is loud a clear: NOBODY WANTS YOU. The author of the letter claims to have gained this new insight from adult adoptee blogs and if that's true then she is also incredibly weak and a sheep, who follows and assumes that experiences are static and shared by everyone and therefore she will completely ignore what these children need and want in lieu of what complete strangers have apparently told her is true. That is pathetic. I seriously hope this is a joke because I cannot begin to fathom the extent of the damage she has done (and will continue to do) to these children. I hope she is saving all that money she initially offered the first dad to take the kids back, because she is going to need for the lifetime of therapy these kids are going to need.

P.S. If you haven't done so yet, check out "thinking mama's" response to M. It's quite a trip, and solidifies my suspicion that she's actually speaking to herself.

Diane said...

I don't think this 'M' letter is real either. It is so maliciously contrived to suit the blogger's follow up points. If it is a sham then it is shameful. If it is true then it is nothing short of cruel emotional abuse. Either way you look at it- somebody has some serious screws loose.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Just as one cannot and should not deny the existence of a child's first family, one cannot and should not deny the existence of a child's adoptive family. What's the difference between that and living in care?

I read a ton of adult adoptee and first mother blogs. Sometimes it's painful, sometimes it's hard... but I learn. I stopped reading this specific blog a while ago because I cannot learn from someone who doesn't also seek to understand me (at least a little bit).

Donna said...

I think this letter is dripping with sarcasm too.

Not all adoptees are angry but some are and I've found that a few very vocal ones will never concede that (under any circumstances) it could ever be better for any child to be adopted. Many of them seem to think we should be punished for adopting children but they don't have any suggestions for repairing our immoral deed and dealing with the children we already "bought". Many times, I've been left wondering if they'd prefer that all of us raise our children as this "Adoptress" is raising hers.

I appreciate any perspective that makes me think so I appreciate this. But I think I knew almost immediately that it was fabricated just to make a specific point.


Lisa said...

I think that this letter is completely made up. I hope I am never proven wrong, because I would definitely refer this Mom to CPS for emotional abuse.

Mei-Ling said...

I don't agree with the way the letter was/is written. It makes me raise my eyebrows.

A lot.

And I seriously can't imagine anyone realistically doing that without being able to recognize it's nothing other than emotional abuse.

"Why is it the adoptive parents are getting or seeming to get the blame for all the problems of the adoptive child?"

What blogs have you been to?

One of the main reasons adoptive parents are brought up to such high standards - seemingly moreso than anything else biological parents have to consider - is because adoptive parents ARE supposedly better.

Not sure where you've been, but the adoption propaganda is everywhere. How the adoptive parents have more money. How some adoptive parents think it's okay to dismiss the original culture because their child came from a 3rd-world sh1thole.

Of course children can't stay in orphanages. There are adoptees who fiercely claim the only kids who need homes are in foster care. I call that bullshit, because kids are still being abandoned in China/Korea/Guatemala/Vietnam.

Adoption is based on a loss. It requires an original family to give up part of themselves - the child. I know there will be some who say that some mothers just don't want to parent and yes, that is true. Some mothers just don't want to parent. OK, I agree.

But thousands and thousands of people who relinquish from Asia who don't care? Or they did care, but just didn't have enough resources and so it doesn't matter because the chlid was adopted and the adoption couldn't have been undone.

I'm not buying that as an excuse. I'm not buying it as a morale, either.

Just because someone still gave up their child and there were no resources so it couldn't be helped and it doesn't matter because the kid is American now and we'll just give 'em drive-by culture - that is extremely dismissive. It's lip-service. Culture should not have to feel like an obligation.

Someone once asked in International-Adopt-A-Talk: "Why do the adoptive parents get the brunt of the anger? Why do they get all the blame?"

And someone said something like: "Because they have presented themselves as being better."

Of course, some parents I've talked to are the greatest allies of TRAs. Some parents I've talked to through e-mail are going to be awesome supporters for their adult adoptees in the future. Some parents do a damn good job of preparing themselves.

It doesn't matter in the political run if they don't believe they are better. In the eyes of society, they have had to prove they ARE better - materialistically, money-wise, emotionally-wise, financially-wise, etc. The list goes on.

I know that's not true - that many a-parents don't believe they are better than their child's other parents.

But in the political picture, it's what is required: If you can prove to us that you are better by going through the screening process, then you can raise this child.

Meadow said...


I appreciate you comment, and insight. Jusy speaking for myself and the country where we were assessed, I don't get the impression that AP's are considered better than. Over here, there is no adoption industry or agencies, we get assessed by the government ministry (health and children ministry social workers) and we don't pay any money, we apply to be assessed and it takes about 5 years to get to the elligibilty stage before any dossiers can be put together for application to specific countries.

From my perspective, the gruelling assessments we are put through and believe me when I gruelling and invasive and intense( we had the SW to our home for about 8 'four hour' interviews) on top of so many other things.... I always got the feeling that we were being judged on whether we would be 'good enough' to deal with the complexity of adoption, and if we were deemed 'good enough' as the government and SW's had to stand over the recommendation of us as potential adoptive parents. Never once did I ever get the idea or message that AP's were considered 'better than' if anything I always felt that we were almost being discouraged at nearly every step. Not I know that our system is different, and non commercial, and Ireland has a sad history when it comes to Domstic adoption in the BSE years, but from my persective it has never crossed my mind that AP's are considered 'better than' even by society. Obviously financially we are considered wealthy by developing countries standards, and in the eyes of relinquishing parents or SWI officials etc, but over here you just need to be earning a basic honest wage, and have a modest home. I know of some very down to earth and non wealthy families who have adopted, and they struggle financially like a lot of people. I do know that it is mostly middle class families that consider adoption, but that is because it is more accepted by that group of people (Here anyway) but everyone is entitled to apply and be assessed.

I am rambling, but it just struck a chord with me....

Judy said...

If it's a real letter, then the woman has issues. Why adopt if you're not going to take on the roles of parents to these children?

I do acknowledge that there's loss in adoption, and we've dealt with and will continue to deal with it. But I respectfully don't think adoption is only about loss. Some may disagree with me; that's fine.

IF that letter is real, then that woman and her husband are doing a disservice to children who have already experienced loss and do not now need to experience rejection.

malinda said...

I think one reason adoptive parents are held to a higher standard, and get the brunt of the anger, is that we're pretty much the only ones in the triad who had any meaningful choice.

Most birth parents relinquish in circumstances of constrained choice -- poverty, disability, social stigma, family pressure, etc., limit birth parents' choices. I won't say they have NO choice, because that is pretty infantilizing.

But adopted kids have absolutely NO choice in being adopted, so making adoptive parents fully responsible for ALL the issues in adoption seems fair to me -- if APs don't accept their kids as they are, as having a past before adoption, as having parents before adoption, etc., then it's the kids who will suffer.

APs not only have choice, they have financial resources (I'm not saying they are all rich, but by comparison with birth families, they are), power, privilege, citizenship in powerful nations. We CHOOSE to adopt, we YEARN to adopt, we WORK to adopt. We have free CHOICE. With that, comes much responsibility.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that she uses the word adoptress herself in another post. This writer (the one with the blog) is way too angry to be thinking. You can't be thoughtful and know everything at the same time. Part of being a good thinker is being able to construct in your mind a case for your opponent's view without diminishing them. The letter, the blog, the comedian (the blogger is one) are just one long look-at-me.

QingLu Mama said...

Wow is all I can say.
I am an adult adoptee and the ONLY think my parents are called is Mom & Dad. That's exactly what they are, and always will be. What she is doing to these girls is unfair...and she asks what she can do? Stand up and finish what you started, these are YOUR CHILDREN! Wow...
And I am huge on speaking of our childrens birthparents, honoring them and making sure our children always know that they did and do have birth parents.

But "Adoptress".
Those poor girls are being emotionally damaged and it is so unfair and just cruel.

I really do hope this is a false letter.
Thanks for posting, it makes you think...

Anonymous said...

QingLuMama, your daughter is called Simone too? I will tell (my) Simone. She will be intrigued!

Chinazhoumom said...

This woman just makes me MAD! I want to shake her - it is a disservice to the children - and so "unfair"....

Cassi said...

Okay, I'm a bit late coming in on this but I wanted to make a couple comments . . .

First, I read this letter awhile back, can't remember when but, like others, I wasn't too fond of it either. I struggled when my oldest son stopping referring to his adoptive mom as mom and instead began using her name. I still called her - and still do when I don't catch myself first - his mom. I only started making a conscious effort not to call her mom when speaking to him because it became something that made him angry to hear. But his feelings are based more, I believe, on the abuse he went through more than on his actual adoption.
But even now, to this day, myself, his dad, and his grandparents (my parents) have talked to him about his other "change" which is to refer to his adoptive grandparents by their first names as well. Though they are both passed away now, we don't want him to lose, or ever feel like he has to lose, that connection to them. Especially his grandfather who, in his own words, was the only one who was there for him when he was growing up and who actually kept him in line up until his death. It saddens me that he will refer to him by his first name when that is his grandfather and nobody, and nothing, should ever take that away from him, adoption or not.

Cassi said...

As for the author of the blog - I do read her blog and I have her linked in my blog list.
I've carried and expressed a lot of anger myself when it comes to adoption. I've used words that are hurtful, been angry at adoptive parents, just because they were adoptive parents, lashed out at anyone who had a "cheery" outlook on adoption.
It didn't mean I was right or wrong. But I was (and still, for the most part, am) mad and sometimes it's hard to find anywhere logical to direct that anger because, very often, there is no tangible "being." No actual one person to be angry with and to lash out on. It's difficult to feel as if your life has been controlled and screwed around with by an entity you can't physically touch or directly speak to. It's hard to place anger on any one person because the ones at the top of it all - the adoption industry - are, in their own way, untouchable and unseen by so many of us. And so it seems we, or atleast I know I did, release that anger on anyone involved in the world of adoption because that is all that we have, in so many ways, to let know that we are hurt, we're pissed and we hate what happened to us. Sometimes, when you don't have one source to be angry with because they still loom above you with their heavy hand, it filters into others who symbolize those you are truly angry with.
I don't know if that made any sense or not but I hope some will realize when you do come across some who seem just angry with everyone and everything, they may need that outlet because they have nothing else.

Margie said...

I know I've seen that letter before, too. I personally don't believe that it was intended to be taken at face value, although I'm not entirely sure what it was trying to convey. Can't decide if it's sarcasm I read or what, but it doesn't ring true.

One thing it DOES do, however, is get people thinking about the fact that there are other ways in which children can be raised by families without being adopted by them. This letter, though, should get us all thinking about the impact that those relationships can have on children. However, if this letter is attempting to show the positives, I think it falls short of the mark. I can't imagine these children feeling fully connected to either family in the situation that's described.

Wish I could remember where I'd seen this ...

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely disgusting. These children have been rejected by not one family - but TWO! As an adoptee, this woman makes me sick. These children are begging her to accept them as her children, and she refuses.

I truly hope these girls don't end up damaged from that constant daily rejection.