Friday, January 6, 2012

Competitive Adoption Mothering

Does this comment from Terra Trevor, author of Pushing Up the Sky, ring true?
Most of all, I'm wondering, when did writing about motherhood get to be so complicated? Toss in adoption. The home study process with its series of self-studies focusing on our ideas regarding parenting and our child rearing philosophy gear us toward extreme self-improvement. This is where the rubber meets the road, particularly in International and transracial adoption. It's the juncture where a fire is lit in us to question our values, and often this process leads some of us to judge others whose models do not match our own.

We accept the need to put extra effort into adoption mothering. We read everything we can get our hands on about adoption. We participate in adoption conferences, email group discussions, and support groups. In this setting, is it little wonder that in our eagerness to become enlightened, in our sincere desire to better ourselves, that we have a tendency to become overly critical?

For as long as I have been a mother which began on a joyful day in 1981, one thing has remained a constant. Within our sisterhood of adoptive mothers, we are a bit hard on each other. Comparisons are constantly made, and someone always draws the short straw. Perhaps it's because the adoption process with its long wait list to be matched with a child drives us to be competitive.
I remember my very first competitive mothering moment. . . . 

We had (and still have) a close group of friends who waited together to adopt from China, and all adopted within a few months of each other, with all the children aged within months of each other.  At one of our first big get-togethers after we'd all returned, one of the moms did the "look why my child can do" thing, and adorable baby could point to parts of her body as mom asked, "Where's your nose?  Where's your mouth?"

Zoe couldn't do those things (none of the other girls could, either!)  It hadn't even occurred to me to teach her those things.  I was still so exhausted with the oh-so-new day-to-day parenting job that it was a miracle we'd even made it to the party clean and clothed!

But by our next get-together? Zoe could identify a bazillion body parts!  And so could all the other girls! 


Anonymous said...

i find myself doing this. more about whether our parenting styles are appropriate (being open with our kids about adoption, sleep issues, cultural issues, etc. i feel bad that i sometime judge families who are making adoption parenting mistakes based on what i've studied. really, i don't like that i do it. but i do. no comparisons on the kids 'doing' things. more on whether the parents are doing the right parenting things given their child's situation. changing names, negating the country of origin, no attachment focus, anything… sorry to my ap friends.

Anonymous said...

I also admit I judge other APs for what I perceive are their deficiencies. Like, how CAN they be doing that (or not doing this other thing) in this day and age??

Latest judging moments for me happened within past 10 says. On a yahoo adoption list I'm on, mom of a 12-year-old posts that she needs support for her daughter, who is experiencing a lot of grief over feeling totally disconnected from her birth culture. Family lives in Penn. county that's basically white-people-ville. I immediately thought, how can these kinds of things still be happening? What has this mom been doing to help her daughter feel connected to birth culture up to this point??

Another recent moment was with a long-time fellow adoptive mom in our community. This family has done very little to connect their daughter to her birth culture, despite many opportunities in our city. I keep thinking the doo-doo is gonna hit the fan for this girl at some point in the future, and it ain't gonna be pretty. Feel bad for the girl that her mother seems to think cultural support isn't necessary, or is afraid of it, or something.

Anon. #2

Anonymous said...

anon 2, anon 1 here. me too. kills me to see those things. are you on some sort of post adoption forum? i can't find any on yahoo… our state one is lame - no one posts.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 1 here. I know of several post-adoption Yahoo email lists! Here are homepages for a few:

The first one, AdoptionParenting, is a topic driven list where they have a discrete topic every 2 weeks and discussion is supposed to focus on that. The HomelandTravel list is specifically about traveling in China post-adoption. InternationalAdoptTalk is a list made up of adult adoptees, IA parents, and interested others. It's pretty quiet these days but I imagine there's a lot of gold in the list archives.

Anonymous said...

Okay, one of the lists seems to have gotten cut off.

But if you search Yahoo groups for AdoptionParentingTWEENSandTEENS you should find it.

Good luck!

Anon. #1