I’m going to dive into adoption stuff today. And I’m going to be honest, so let me start by saying, these are just my feelings, and I’m not going to sugar coat it but I do hope I don’t accidently upset anyone because that’s never my intention.
So, here’s the thing, I read a lot about adoption. I read blogs. I read news articles. I read the odd book (but if I’m honest, I don’t read a lot of books these days because I can never seem to finish them no matter how hard I try). And I often read stories that break my heart. Stories of adoptive parents lying to their adopted children. Adult’s finding out they were adopted and feeling as though their entire lives were a lie. Stories of adopted children being angry and bitter over their adoption which they had no say in as they were babies/children and other people (birth parents, adoptive parents, judges, lawyers, adoption agencies) all made decisions in their ‘best interests’ without their voice being accounted for. Stories of abuse and neglect at the hands of adopted parents who promised to love and care for their adopted children. Adoptive parents who didn’t finish the adoption and immigration paperwork with lifelong consequences for the child. Adopted children who cannot gain access to their original birth certificates. The horror stories don’t ever seem to end. And I acknowledge it’s easier to come across horror stories then it is to find happy stories.
And, honestly, each and every one of these stories breaks my heart and simultaneously brings fear to my very core.
We don’t lie to Little MPB. We will never lie to Little MPB. He will always know his adoption story. He will always have access to every single piece of information we have, and we will tell him the truth when we don’t know something.
We keep lines of communication open with Little MPB’s birth mother. Even when we don’t hear anything back, we continue to send notes, pictures and gifts. We intend to always do this. And, when age appropriate (so long as it’s safe), Little MPB will be able to communicate directly with his birth mother and sibling, without us hovering. We will always encourage him to have these relationships.
We have his original birth certificate stored in a safe place. For that matter, we have all his adoption paperwork stored in a safe place for him to have one day. We even have electronic copies of everything just in case something happens to the hard copies.
We finished his adoption and immigration paperwork, and we are 110% confident that we dotted every i and crossed every t.
We clearly hold up our promise to love and cherish Little MPB. He truly is the centre of our lives and we will always do everything in our power to protect him from any type of harm.
But, I cannot help but wonder, is this enough? Are we doing right by Little MPB? Can we do more?
Obviously, as an infant, Little MPB had no say in his adoption, what happens if one day he is filled with the type of anger I have read from others?
In my mind, I just think, his adoption is a fact of life. Just like my mom and sister died when I was only 14. (For the record, I know the death of my mom and sister is not the same as adoption, but it’s the best analogy I have in respect to being handed a life that you didn’t envision and had no control over). In my mind, these are facts that you don’t get to change, but you do get to choose what to do with. I chose not to throw my life away by getting involved in drugs and alcohol, which I so easily could have. I chose to lead a productive life. But, not everyone is wired the way I am, and there is no guarantee Little MPB will have similar thinking to me or make the same choices I did.
Adoption will always be part of his story, but when this fear rises within me, I cannot help but wonder, can we do more to help him have healthy emotions and experiences around his adoption?
I know, there is absolutly nothing I can do except do my best. But I guess, just like every parent I only want to see my child grow up to be happy and healthy.
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You are such an amazing Mom. To have all of these thoughts and fears about the well being of your child so early on, and these thoughts and fears are so normal (even in a non-adoption family!)
I don’t have a lot of experience in adoption. (My sister is adopted, but the situation is very different as she is developmentally challenged and doesn’t understand the adoption concept even at 18 now, and her bio parents are/were both mentally challenged, mother is now deceased and father is very abusive in many ways unfortunately). I will never pretend to know or understand what it is like to be in your shoes, but for the record, I really think that in your situation you are making all of the right moves for your son and your family!
You really are a fantastic person and mother!!
All any of us can ever do is our very best.
I think I remember you saying that you’ve been involved in local adoption groups, right? Are there any adult adoptees that are involved as well? I know there are so many horror stories out there in books and on the internet — and of course, you’re absolutely right that you should be aware of how adoption can go so very wrong, so that you can help Little MPB as much as possible to avoid the pitfalls. But I have to say that in my small family, there are a couple of adoptions, and I don’t think I’m being naive when I say that my family members have had overall positive adoption experiences and are very much at peace as adults with their origin stories. My cousin, who I’m very close to and was like a sister growing up, was adopted as an infant, and she is now married to a man who was also adopted as an infant. Both of them had open adoptions (less common back in the 80s), and I think they probably had a very similar experience to the experience that Little MPB will have growing up — where their adoption was openly spoken of from the moment they were brought home, and they had contact with their birth families that was important to them as they grew up, and they had loving and nurturing adoptive families. And as adults, they’re just fine — more than OK, really. I think the analogy with the death of your mom and sister is apt, personally — adoption is something they didn’t get to choose, but it’s something that is a part of their life that they have made peace with. Of course there were a lot of big feelings they had to work through (especially as a teen, in my cousin’s case!), but most people have something analogously big and tough in their lives. Your love and support and awareness is going to mean so much to Little MPB as he grows up and works through these issues on his own.
“can we do more to help him have healthy emotions and experiences around his adoption?”
You can learn how the child processes being adopted at each new cognitive stage, and be aware of what *may* be percolating inside, and find ways to open conversations to talk about adoption and being adopted, and what *some* other children that age may think kind of thing if you notice a shift. Or, you can just bring up adoption and being adopted in general conversation from time to time in a do you ever think about X or Y, and wait to see the response – best is car drives when eye contact isn’t possible. Being able to talk about tough subjects is always helpful when processing something (you blog for that reason), but for some reason, parents seem to think the child should be the one to bring it up…
There are major developmental stages when shifts change – we go from thinking adoption is cool, then we recognise the loss at another stage, then not so long after that the teen years kick in, and puberty can hit really hard for some, then moving out, marriage, college can be another, and birth – that’s a big one because it has come full circle. The processing happens when changes happen, like anything in life, shifts create chasms for processing – if you can be safe and able to discuss without fear, and see their loss the same as you see your losses (your losses don’t take away from your love for your son, they are standalone subjects) – your child can feel okay to talk and process with you.
You have what so many parents didn’t have – the ability to access the knowledge of the processing, the times, the different ways the process looks. The book – published in the 1990’s by Brodzinsky that is parent friendly – “Being Adopted – the Lifelong Search for Self” – gives you the knowledge.
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Lots of kids growing up in traditional families are angry about their upbringing too. Sometimes for good reason and sometimes not. It sounds like you are doing everything you can to give him a great childhood. For some people it will not ever be good enough but for most it will. You seem to be doing everything that is in your control to ensure he has a happy life. The feeling that you are worried you have missed something means that you are doing an excellent job and makes you a great Mom. 😀
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I was raised by my birth mother and and my adoptive father. They were honest with me about my dad adopting me and who my biological father was. They were not always so forthcoming about why he was not in my life. Or I guess the better way to say it, is that there was obvious resentment over him, from my mother and it showed in what little bit of information they did provide. I was left having to draw a lot of my own conclusions.
I grew up always wondering about him and what if…. I was never allowed to contact him, but the curiosity consumed my teenage years, the wondering if life would have been better living with him, and that type of thinking. My niece was also adopted by both parents, with a very open adoption, and even though it is a very open adoption, she still struggles with wanting to know all of the “what if’s”. I think you are absolutely doing the right thing by being open and honest with him always. But regardless of that, it is very likely that he will have those times where he wonders all of the “what if’s”, may fantasize about living with her, etc.
In my case and in my niece’s case, we both have come to realize we were in fact better off with the parents who raised us, and that the biological parents did in fact do us the best service in allowing us to be adopted, but I think the point is regardless of the situation, I believe that all adoptees have a point in time where they become consumed by all of the “what if’s”. I think it is just human nature, but the difference is in the trust for the adoptive parents, if they have been open and honest, I think the child will always know their self worth and won’t question it as much during that process.
You are doing the best you can and that is very obvious to me and your other readers. I cannot pretend to have any good advice because I have not been on either side of this equation. But I do thank you for sharing all the aspects of this journey.
I think we hear mostly the horror stories related to adoption. I have a few friends and family members who were adopted as infants, and they knew from an early age about their adoptions. None of them seem to have issues related to the fact that they were adopted, and they all seem to have good relationships with their adoptive families.
I think all you can do is what you’re doing: educate yourself, be honest, keep the lines of communication open.
You know, your statement about his adoption being, “a fact of life,” is correct. It is one of the things that will make him into the adult he will be some day. Because of how you’re handling it with complete openness and honesty, Little MPB will be in the best place to deal with and navigate this fact of life. We don’t get to choose most of the things that make us who we are, but those around us get to choose how to help us put those facts into a working reality. The choices YOU have made, and will continue to make, will only benefit Little MPB. ❤️
You are doing everything right, and then some. Most importantly – you are leading by example. Your example of the loss of your mother and sister is a perfect analogy – you were handed a life you did not expect and you did not deserve – but you took that life and chose to make the best of what you have. Showing little MPB that will teach him how to handle his own story – as painful as it will be sometimes. Also, the openness and the transparency with which you handling it all is huge. He will never grow up believing his life has been a lie – and that is the best gift you can give him.
I think as a Mother, you will ALWAYS wonder if you’ve done enough. Said enough. Given enough. That’s part of being a Mother – but you really are doing an amazing job and giving this little boy the gift of a true story – something so many others do not have. Even though his creation is complicated, the fact that he will know every detail should help him to be confident in who he is.
I dont know you or your husband, but from what i have been reading in relation to your care and emotions toward your son,you are the best thing that happened to him! You are stable,mature and responsible people who made him apple of your eyes. He might only wonder how come his birth mother didnt act like you,but im sure he will always be grateful to have you as his Mum!
It sounds like you are doing a lot to keep your adoption process transparent for your son and, from the little I’ve read in other posts, that you’ve talked to other adoptive parents, giving thought to pertinent questions. I think something that would be beneficial for you to consider is even if your son grows up and becomes critical of the adoption system, it does not mean that you have failed him or that he has had an “adoption horror story.” As you point out, there are a lot of real horror stories and aspects of adoption that deserve just anger. I echo TAO’s sentiments that learning developmental stages in relation to adoption will be helpful. Additionally, if your son is a different race than you, equipping him to deal with racism before it happens is vital. Familiarize yourself with the culture of his original country to keep small pieces of that identity alive in him. Adoption is a messy, complicated, never-ending process on all sides.
You mention adoptee anger several times. If interested, here are some of my thoughts on the label of “the angry adoptee:” https://redthreadbroken.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/rethinking-the-angry-adoptee/
Thank you for sharing your feelings on adoption.
It is beautiful for me to hear an adoptive parent’s perspective.
I was adopted into a loving family 51 years ago and it is deeply rooted in my psyche. I’ve always known I was adopted and my adopted family always loved me. I still alway feel there’s a hole in my life. I’ve learned to live around that hole and work everyday to be grateful for everything else in my life.
What you are doing for Little MPB is beautiful!
That mindset and access to information wasn’t available to my parents, so I thanking you for doing it for him.
I believe that he will go through his own journeys regarding adoption, and I am absolutely positive he will always feel what a blessing you are to him..
This blessing you are giving him will be his grounding foundation. So, please try to always remember, even when he rebels at some point, that you are his parents.
The universe brought you together and it was meant to be.
Thank you for being love.
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