Thursday, November 18, 2010

Adoption as a Second Language

A roundtable discussion about adoption language with three writers who are also a birth mother, an adoptee and an adoptive parent, introduced as follows:
As writers, we have an intimate relationship with words; we feel their weight and recognize their significance on a daily basis. For those of us touched by adoption, this relationship becomes even more complex. Often, joining the adoption community means learning a new language; figuratively – as old words take on new meanings and others become suddenly insufficient, and literally – when adoption brings a foreign language to the family.

Vocabulary, phrasing, and naming become delicate matters that often require not only great sensitivity, but an abundance of creativity as well. We work together, within our own families, and inside the greater community, using words to educate and support one another. Communication is essential for adoption relationships to thrive, and while there are numerous tools at our disposal, words can be both the greatest and weakest of these.

I asked three fabulous She Writers to share some thoughts and memories from their own experiences with adoption. I picked and probed into some very personal issues, and all three women were generous in both their willingness to share, and the honesty with which they did so.


Elizabeth@Romans8:15 said...

What a great discussion--I love this quote, "My son's parents have thanked me several times for my gift to them.
Those words are appreciated, but they don't quite hit the mark; it
implies that I cared so much about them I gave them my child. The
reality is quite the opposite. I cared so much about my child I
gave the adoptive parents to him. He wasn’t the gift – they were."

Mirah Riben said...

Thanks for sharing that link.

It seems the most contentious issue remains what to call mothers who have relinquished children for adoption, other than "mothers who have relinquished children for adoption."

I contend that it is a personal choice and each woman needs to be asked how SHE prefers to be addressed and how she chooses to describe herself and the action.

Many of us did NOT "place" our children. I lost my child to adoption. For me it was a loss, just as her death was, but without any finality, closure, mourning or sympathy.