Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This Adoptive Mother Does Not Speak For Me

Adoptive mother Heidi Hess Saxton responds at one of her blogs to comments from adult adoptees at another one of her blogs, and then closes comments, saying, "Again, I'm not looking for a discussion here. Frankly, I've heard enough." Isn't that special?! Since I can't comment at her blog, I thought I'd comment here.

Here's an excerpt from her response to adult adoptees:
You call us "infertiles" (hoping to pick a fight, I guess) or simply "selfish people," because we consider ourselves our child's real family after spending 18-22 years of our lives raising him or her. You minimize and even mock the sacrifice, the struggle, and the fears -- and have not a single ounce of the compassion for those who feel genuine pain over their grown child's choice to "find himself" in another family. And then you wonder why we tune you out, like a mother who ignores a toddler throwing a temper tantrum.

In your single-minded quest for what you "lost," you completely disregard what you were spared -- the neglect, the abuse, the untimely death. Now that the danger is past, that's easily done. But we remember where you came from. It's part of your
story . . . and in a real sense, part of ours as well. Because we are your parents, who labored for you in ways you can never begin to understand.

So you'll have to make allowances if at times we seem to have more concern for your first parents than you think is right, or if we have little patience for your whining about what cannot be undone. You'll have to realize that yes, we are GLAD, things turned out as they did . . . because we love you and cannot imagine what our lives would have been like had you never been a part of them.

It's not so hard for us to imagine why someone brave enough to choose adoption would object to an untimely reminder of their past (even if they are happy to hear the child himself is well) after having kept it a secret for decades, often due to the circumstances that led to the adoption in the first place. We respect that original sacrifice, and agree that parent should have the option to be left alone, and not have to explain themselves or their decisions to individuals decades removed from the situation. It was hard enough the first time. (If the first parents want contact, that's a different matter. No less painful, but different.)
I especially like the internal inconsistencies in this post -- here's my favorite:
"you completely disregard what you were spared -- the neglect, the abuse, the untimely death"

. . . juxtaposed with. . .

"So you'll have to make allowances if at times we seem to have more concern for your first parents than you think is right"
Riighhttt. We care about your birth parents -- despite the fact that if you'd stayed with them they would have neglected, abused and killed you. WTF?! And all that faux sympathy for birth parents who must want their secrets to remain secrets, as an excuse for closed records. She isn't really sympathetic; after all she's "GLAD, things turned out as they did." Nothing like being glad your child suffered loss and grief, and claim that is love. And nothing like claiming concern for birth mothers when you're GLAD things turned out as they did -- loss and pain and grief for birth mothers, too.

This adoptive mom wants sympathy for "those who feel genuine pain over their grown child's choice to 'find himself' in another family." And then she claims that her position that original birth certificates and adoption records be sealed is because of her concern for birth parents. Sounds to me that she wants the records sealed so adoptive parents won't have to deal with their chidlren searching and finding birth parents.

THIS ADOPTIVE MOTHER DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ME.

SHE DOES NOT SPEAK FOR MANY ADOPTIVE PARENTS I KNOW.

Yes, I'm my daughters' "real mother." But I'm not their only real mother. Their birth mothers are real mothers, too. I don't consider adult adoptees whiners or tantruming toddlers who should be ignored -- I have learned so much from them that will help me be a better parent to my children. I support full access to original birth certificates and adoption records. I find it completely natural that an adopted person would want to know her birth parents. Of course an adopted person might need to "find himself" in another family -- that family is part of him, his roots, his DNA. The data support this -- in the Donaldson report on adult adoptees, white adoptees rated contact with birth relatives as THE MOST IMPORTANT factor in forming a positive adoptive identity. Not surprising, then, that a whopping 86% had taken steps to find birth family. I will do everything I can to support my children if they want to search for birth parents. In fact, I've already taken steps to search. I'm not saying these things to toot my own horn; I know TONS of adoptive parents who feel the same way. Some of them are listed in my blog roll, and comment here.

Unfortunately, I'm sure there are adoptive parents who agree with every word this adoptive mother has written. I ran across the link to the blog because another adoptive parent on Twitter posted it saying, "After reading too much from the anti-adoption side, finding this is nice. God bless eloquence." Sigh. But I firmly believe this out-moded thinking is changing. For the sake of adopted children, I certainly hope so.

11 comments:

maybe said...

She is so noble to have saved a child from "the neglect, the abuse, the untimely death" because she believes all natural families are murderers. Lovely.

Mei-Ling said...

Oh gawd. Heidi.

*head-desk*

She adopted from foster care, so she thinks all original families would have been abusive and/or neglectful.

Heidi Saxton said...

I've posted a response here, if you're interested: http://extraordinarymomsnetwork.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/another-country-heard-from-china-adoption/

I wish you success in finding your children's birth parents. As for the rest ... If you thought about it for a moment, you would realize that you are no more able to speak for me than I am for you. Our circumstances are just too different.

Mei-Ling, I'm surprised that you would say such a thing. International adoption is a very different thing from foster-adoption. I would think that even YOU would be able to appreciate that I understand the difference!

Cassi said...

Heidi,

From what I read it did seem as if you were speaking for all adoptive parents and for first parents.

But from my experience and what I have seen with many adoptees, adoptive and first parents is that your way of thinking often times causes more harm than anything else. Such beliefs, I don't think, protect your child at all because you disregard a very fundamental part of who they are and their need to discover that side.

And I don't believe it matters what kind of adoption. Every adoptee, from every situation, has the right to have both first and adoptive parents who believe along the same lines as Malinda in her post and understand that adoptees have to very real sets of parents in their life who are also very real in who they are. One should not ever negate the other but instead be constantly accepting of everyone who is such an important part of their lives.

I see any other views of this as a selfish act for ones own good that complete ignores the adoptee.

And as a first mom, please do not speak for me or any other mother who has lost her child to adoption. You can not possibly know how we feel. Unless you have walked in our shoes, you don't have a clue what we went through and I don't believe the majority of us would ever want you or any other adoptive parent "protecting" us from our own children.

That is your reasoning to keep us separated but that is not our feelings so kindly step away from our experience. Thank you.

Cassi said...

Oh and just to be clear, adoption did not spare my son from abuse and neglect. Instead it placed him right in the middle of this during most of his childhood.

Zhey Chua said...

The first thing I asked my social worker upon referral was, "Do I get to know the first parents' information, like name, age, address, history? The mother, at least." I am glad I had full access to her information. It was a very poignant moment in my life in that should the SW say no, I would most likely not proceed with the adoption. It was that important for me to know who my son's mother is, because I know it will be important to him someday, too.

Like you, Malinda, I don't mean to "toot my own horn" here, but I would like to politely exclude myself from being represented by Ms. Saxton.

Cassi said it very well, "adoptees have two very real sets of parents in their life who are also very real in who they are. One should not ever negate the other but instead be constantly accepting of everyone who is such an important part of their lives."

Amen.

Mei-Ling said...

No, Heidi. I am well aware you know the difference.

It is this statement which labels adoption reunions as ALL being potentially dangerous without the blessing of the adoptive parents:

"In your single-minded quest for what you "lost," you completely disregard what you were spared -- the neglect, the abuse, the untimely death. Now that the danger is past, that's easily done."

You assume an awful lot there - and that's because those aspects that you speak of - they generally apply more to foster care than IA.

Anonymous said...

Why do you suggest the author is a closed-records advocate? (I have not read much of her stuff - sorry if I'm just being clueless.) I read her post as a (rather disorganized) response to apparently derailing comments on her blog (that I couldn't find). A bit of a rant, to be sure, but in the scope of the adoption-related content on the web, not super-offensive.

I've been following your blog for a few weeks, Malinda, and I really enjoy your writing, your wit, your insights. As a prospective adoptive parent, you've warned me to a LOT of the potential issues adoptive parents need to be prepared for - perhaps even some issues you did not recognize until after adopting. (For that, I thank you!) I hope I will use that knowledge to the benefit of my future children.

I suppose I was just disappointed by this post because it felt very accusatory and angry. I did not read this post as constructive criticism, and I did not see the same empathy for Ms. Saxton that I usually see in your work. I may not agree with many of her positions, but I do understand her frustration at being labeled "an infertile" or "a selfish person" - the sort of name-calling I've seen aimed at all prospective adoptive parents, and feel hurt by despite their disconnect from me personally.

I don't mean to speak for anyone but myself here - and I do still love your blog, Malinda! You certainly make me think :)

osolomama said...

I left a comment on Heidi's blog about open records. I hope it gets in. Thanks for linking us.

Melanie Recoy said...

Another head hitting the desk here.

Heidi, Heidi, Heidi.....come into the light, please.

Malinda, I understand what you're doing here, but I fear it's all in vain. Heidi just ignores folks who don't agree with her.

Camille said...

I have adopted five children from the same birth mother. My children know her and see her and their biological grandmother and aunts and uncles (I do know two of the birth fathers as well). I will admit it was hard at first to share them with their birth parents (only because of my own insecurities, not theirs). I am glad that my children know that there is a large network of people who love and care for them. I am glad I know my children's birth parents.