Sunday, October 4, 2009

Is adoption natural?

Issicat has a great blog post up, about prospective adoptive parents, brain washing, and "natural" mothers:

And here is the other one that cracks me up from the PAP’s. Apparently, I’m not supposed to call the woman who gave birth to me my natural mother. I’m not supposed to call her that because it implies that adoption is unnatural.


I got 2 things to say about that.

1. I was raised by my aparents calling the woman who gave me life my natural mother. They didn’t have a problem with it. She doesn’t have a problem with it and most importantly I don’t have a problem with it. . . . I’ll call my mother whatever I want.

2. ADOPTION is not natural. It isn’t. A person giving their child to an agency to be given to complete strangers to raise. Not natural. PAP’s wriitng “Dear Birthmother” letters trying to pimp themselves to women in crisis pregnancy situations in the hope of obtaining said baby… not natural.

You know what is natural? Babies going home and being cared for by the mothers who carried them in their bodies. That is natural. Anything else is just a little sad.

I’m not saying I hate adoption. I don’t. I’m not saying that adoption isn’t necessary in some cases. It is.

But there is no way in hell I would ever call it natural.

And that is something that my aparents seemed to get. My sibling and I …we came from other people. There was and is no denying it. My parents did not find it natural to be raising two children with no medical history. I think they found it pretty stressful, especially when I fell extremely ill as a toddler. I think that time right there, that extremely stressful time showed them once and for all that adoption was a very unnatural situation.

* * *

Adoption natural? No it isn’t. My mom is very proadoption. She loves adoption but she’ll tell you herself, she’s not stupid. Adoption is not an easy or natural road to take.

Oh and she thinks Anita Tedaldi is a shit-head…but that is another story.
Issycat's amom, I think I love you!

The "natural" thing is another one of those "givens" in adoption language -- adoptive parents are supposed to be upset about adopt-a-whatever programs, we're supposed to say we're the real parents, not those pesky birth parents, and we're supposed to say that adoption is natural, just another way to add to your family.

I was brainwashed to believe it, weren't you? I completely bought into the "same as" narrative, that raising an adopted child was the same as raising a biological child, nothing less and certainly nothing more.

It's not the same. I won't say it's harder. But it is more complicated. And that's what prospective adoptive parents should know and accept.

For me, it was having my new child in my arms that changed me. When she became a real person to me, instead of the abstract notion of the idea of a child, that's when it all changed.

So I forgive prospective adoptive parents a little. They have room for redemption.

What bothers me are those adoptive parents, with their child in their arms, who persistently cling to the "same as" narrative, rejecting that birth parents are real, insisting their child is AMERICAN so needs no special heritage-teaching/culture-keeping, saying that race doesn't matter (easy to say when you're the majority race, impossible for their minority-race child to live), desperately repeating the mantra, "same as . . . same as . . . same as. . . ."

Standard disclaimer -- not all prospective adoptive parents or adoptive parents are like that. But we all know ones who are, I bet.


holly said...

As usual, you nailed it; as did issycat's amom!
Such a relief to read intelligence & reason! I get a little overwhelmed with the stupid sometimes.

Mei-Ling said...

That post rocked.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Issycat's aparents must have been waaay ahead of their time! Even now we hear all kinds of stupid statements about first mothers/natural mothers, babies growing "in the wrong tummies" and children as blank slates. (Confession: I was not adopted and my mother ardently believed that I was a blank slate, and believe me, it lead to some serious low self esteem issues on my part for not being the "daughter she wanted." I can only imagine how much more devastating that experience would be for adoptees.) If I don't respect my son's natural parents, especially his mother (b/c, let's face it, the mom's are obviously the ones who go through the pregnancy) then what message am I conveying to him? "We love you, you're wonderful, but BTW, your natural mother was little more than a broodmare?!!!"

Courtney, AP to TRA (Korea)

artsweet said...

The whole "grown in my heart" phenomenon really mystifies me. Is it insecurity that makes us a-parents feel like we're not really parents unless we try to erase where our kids came from?

Meeting my son's mom in Guatemala and sharing our joy in this wonderful kid made me feel more "real" not less.

Mei-Ling said...

"Is it insecurity that makes us a-parents feel like we're not really parents unless we try to erase where our kids came from?"


Sometimes even recognizing that (generic) your child was born to two other people is a "recognized threat."

AKA the infamous phrase:

"I AM the real mom!"

Adoption in itself questions the validity of the insecure adoptive parent and so they seek to differentiate the term "mom" by using labels, which is based on insecurity.

Judith said...

Why CAN'T adoption be natural? The adoptee here is more focused on biological connections than who actually parented her. And she has another REAL MOM AND DAD. THE SECOND SET. Her real parents, too!

Listen, I get that many adoptees may grieve over their losses. And, yes it's very sad. But, let's face it - many birth parents aren't able to parent. SO, there's a second parent or parents. Why is that not natural? Because the DNA doesn't match? What?

I get an anti-adoption feel to this blog.

malinda said...

Saying something is not natural isn't saying that something is bad. Buildings are not natural. Airplanes are not natural. Dying little dogs to match your outfit is not natural (OK, that one is bad!)

And concluding that this post or this blog is "anti-adoption" is usually a reason to keep reading.

Anonymous said...

If (we) adoptive parents spent as much time working towards anti-racism as we do boycotting films, correcting people who use such offensive terms as "natural" parents, and running campaigns to end the "adoption" of animals and highways because that term belittles our parenting, well, then we'd be a long way towards that mythical post-racial society people keep talking about. I mean really people, how insecure must you be???

Affordable Housing said...

Great post!

I have been researching about adoption issues for more than 30 years. Here's what I have seen:

In the beginning - or probably more apropos "Once upon a time"... babies and aps were matched so that they looked as much alike as possible. Aps were told to take their baby home and "act as if" it was "the same as if it was born to them" and no one had to know any different, not even the adopted child. Best NOT to tell them as it would be too upsetting. Secrets "protect" us from the unpleasant truth.

And so they did.

Then the quite, little, white, healthy infants supply ran dry. Mothers began actually keeping their babies, going to school pregnant, and also they had new magic pills to help them not have babies!

At the same time more and more women were afflicted with the horrible curse of infertility. They believed yet other lies that it was best to wait until they were "mature" and had a good education and career. But alas as they waited they also got stds, had abortions, and were hurt by environmental contaminants.

So, many went on quests to foreign lands to find babies to "cure" their ailment.

Today, it is almost impossible to keep "the secret." Children can look and see the mis-match.

So "the same as" myth is being replaced with the "rescue" myth and ENTITLEMENT!

Adopted kids today don't need their heritage or culture - because their ap has given them so much MORE and BETTER things to replace all that kinship stuff! They should be grateful not to be starving in the streets of their homeland or languishing in an orphanage!

Mirah Riben

AdoptAuthor said...


I've continued the discussion over at:

You're welcome to join in...

A Beautiful Mess said...

interesting post. I worry sometimes that a-parents (china) talk about birth parents as someone we can find ( ie. china mommy and daddy) to a little person it seems like someone you can get in touch with...and unfortunately that isn't usually the case. We talk about "birth parents" in broad strokes since we have no idea who they are or their motivation for leaving their daughter outside of a hospital in Datong.
Adoption isn't natural...but the crazy love I feel for my daughter seems as natural to me as if I birthed her myself!
As for the cultural piece we do our best. We are not chinese. But I also realize that culture cannot be "bought" at chinese school on saturdays, or chinese dance classes, or chinese culture camp. Culture is what you live. 2nd and 3rd generation americans will tell you that their idea of their culture is vastly different from their parents. Culture is ever changing....
Interesting post. Thanks for sharing!

Lisa said...

"Adoption isn't natural...but the crazy love I feel for my daughter seems as natural to me as if I birthed her myself!" Beautifullly spoken by a Beautiful Mess!

Mei-Ling said...

"We are not chinese. But I also realize that culture cannot be "bought" at chinese school on saturdays, or chinese dance classes, or chinese culture camp. Culture is what you live."

Wow, did an adoptive parent just imply that Chinese culture ISN'T about dragon dances?

I'm impressed. :D (and no, this isn't sarcasm)

"Adoption isn't natural...but the crazy love I feel for my daughter seems as natural to me as if I birthed her myself!"

Fact: you love your daughter more than the whole wide world.

Fact: you did not give birth to her.

This is not meant to be an insult. It's a truth and a respectful way of differentiating.

You are her mom. But you aren't her mom by birth. You're her mom by adoption.

Chris said...

Wow, what a great post and what an amazing and informative discussion!

This is why I love reading your blog.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Lisa said...

Mei-Ling - I can speak for myself and probably Beautiful Mess. It is a description of love, not to be taken literally. I am well aware I did not give birth to my daughter. Unfortunately, we never know the woman who did.

Anonymous said...

So what do you think about the terminology used by women who have children by getting sperm from a sperm bank? Most object to the term "artificial insemination" and prefer "donor insemination." It is not natural to conceive children using a turkey baster or whatever, right? So, why not call it what it is? Is there a parallel to adoption terminology? The typical objection is not so much that birth parents are natural, but that the opposite of that makes adoptive parents unnatural (i.e., artificial). It doesn't really bother me, and I'm glad that the poster and her parents were comfortable with the language. But, I do get why people object and also agree, that while it is often due to insecurity, even secure APs may not like thinking of themselves as artifical. While keeping the children one gave birth to is certainly natural, other people besides birthparents have been raising kids throughout history, whether that was a formal legal arrangement or not. So, I guess I don't think adoption is all that unnatural, it's just not usual or typically preferred. We tend to equate natural with better (e.g., natural food), but there are things in nature that are not so great (fire ants, tornados, vomit, etc.).
Sue (aka anonymous)

Lisa said...

Sue, I agree 100% with your post. How about comparison with...a... lovely artificial flower?

Issycat said...

I am NOT anti adoption. Nor do I rely heavily on bio ties. Heck, I barely speak to my first mother.
I love my aparents dearly. they were the ones who raised me to call my first mother my "natural mother".
They had enough confidence not to be threatened by the term.

I am so tired of getting slapped with the "anti-adoption label every time I strike a nerve.
It is much easier to dismiss me than to listen and learn.

Thank you to those who actually *got* my post.