After a discussion on Facebook tonight regarding the lack of the adoptee voice on adoption websites, I began to wonder why it was that these voices weren’t necessarily recognized by the community as a whole. In fact, this interaction was due to someone wishing only to have adoptees who were in open adoptions leading the discussions. Why the segregation? Don’t most adoptions wind up becoming open at some point, even if the relationship is not ideal?
For me, as a birthmother, reading the adoptee perspective was originally hard. It was one of those journeys that I took because I was desperate to better understand what my son may be going through. I hadn’t fully accepted the idea that he was without issue because of the relinquishment, and when his adoptive parents admitted they had been struggling with him behaviorally, I began to wonder what parts of those behaviors were simply nature (my genetics) and which ones may have been caused by the loss of his mother at such a young age. To ignore that adoption creates a rift, a separation of two people is like ignoring that the sun sets every single day.
It’s important for me to understand my son better, even if he’s not facing all the daunting issues that some adoptees face. This helps me to better understand the full spectrum of adoption and to understand the future of it. We focus so much on the here and now in adoption, that we often forget that this is a permanent decision, and it does have long term benefits, but it also has long term consequences. The fear of hearing those consequences is what stops us from being able to further ourselves toward a better adoption community.
There is no need to segregate the voices of adoptees; an adoptee is an adoptee, and we share this playing field with them. Without the voices of the adoptee, adoption would fail to be about them, and would in fact, only be about the adoptive family. We all inherently know this to be untrue, and for those of us looking to becoming prospective adoptive parents, the journey should begin with the adoptee story. Learn about what they think or feel when they are adults, and understand how incredibly complex this journey is for them. It’s not a story that ends the moment they are placed in the arms of their adoptive parents. It’s a story that they carry with them for life, some of them having holes in the full story, and some of them knowing every detail of their relinquishment.
These are stories we need in the adoption community, desperately. There is no need to shut their voices out, even if they don’t have the happiest of stories to tell. In fact, all of the bad stories should be motivation to those in open adoptions to continue doing their very best to maintain openness, and to break down the proverbial walls that exist regarding their silence. We all want our children to be heard in this world. Why is it any different for those who have been relinquished in adoption?