Adoption Survivor

dealing with it

For those who were adopted, when did you start understanding?

with 32 comments

About how old were you when you started to understand what “being adopted” means? What questions did you ask? What questions did you want to ask, but didn’t? What answers did your parents give you? Were the answers helpful? What, if anything, could have been done or said to help your understanding?

My daughter has always known she was adopted. She knows just about everything we know except for issues that she’s still too young for. She’s going to be 10 soon.

We have an open adoption with visits, calls, e-mails, etc. She rarely asks me any questions except for “why don’t I look like my sisters and brother?” and “why don’t they live with us?” We always tell her the truth. When I ask her if there’s anything else she wants to know, I usually get that deer in a headlight look. I know it’s coming. I know she’s going to ask more questions some day. I want to be prepared.

  • 3 weeks ago

Additional Details

3 weeks ago

ETA: Thank you all. You’ve given me more to think about.

Best Answer – Chosen by Asker

Adoption has never been something I was comfortable talking about growing up. I dismissed it as an issue and pushed it under a rug. I just wanted to live my life and try and be happy.

I threw myself into my interests – vocational, recreational, and relational with great fervor and passion. On the surface I appeared vibrant and successful. Yet nothing ever lasted. From childhood to present day, I’ve always been a little remote or a little too intense or a little too vested or a little too intimate.

At 43, after a failed relationship, I crashed. I crawled into a fetal position for two months surveying all my relationship disappointments and nearly didn’t make it to my 44th birthday. Until one day the obvious hit me – that I had been living my entire life avoiding and fearing abandonment. And because avoidance had been my main focus, I was ill-equipped to handle the normal ebbs and flows of relationships most people learn to deal with. That the rough start of abandonment and adoption truly was profound. That it shaped my whole life. And confronting that wound and dealing with it in a more productive way will shape the last half of my life as well.

And one of the main reasons for this handicap was because my parents gained more from me than I gained from them. Their self interest was, in effect, abandoning me. This is something adoptive parents don’t want to recognize. When the parent/child relationship is more about the joys and satisfaction derived from children than it is about truly what is important to the child, then who is there for the child and the child’s emotional needs?

I think childhood is not a time when children can express how they feel, or communicate their deep loss or grief or pain. I don’t think they should be expected to. Nor do I think they will necessarily share any recognition they do have with their second parents. Because you contributed to the process that caused them pain, even if your intentions were honorable. And they care about not hurting you. It’s our own private thing we have to deal with, that the child will never trust the parents to relate to. Because unless you’ve been abandoned and adopted you just can’t.

The only thing you as parents can do is put them first. Really care about them. Always be supportive. And never, ever, place conditions on your affections or put your own needs ahead of theirs. You need to be a rock of gibraltar, a constant and abiding source. They need to trust that you will always be there for them and never abandon them – in word, deed, attitude, in any way, shape, or form. Your loving words are not enough – they need to see/feel/know without a shadow of a doubt that they can be totally secure. The more insecure you show you are, the more insecure your child will be…

So I don’t think it’s a matter of having talks about adoption. In fact, that’s invasive, self-interested, a sign of parental insecurity, and a great way to further alienate yourself from your kids. It’s a matter of being a genuine and complete loving parent. And if your child wants to talk about it when she’s ready, know that all she wants is honest answers. NOT happy adoption rhetoric. HONEST self probing answers.

Again, the theme I keep going back to is this: we don’t need adoptive parents. We need PARENTS. Relaxed. Loving. Secure. Steadfast. Comforting. PARENTS.

Hope I’ve been of help.

Asker’s Rating:
5 out of 5
Asker’s Comment:
Every single answer gave me a new perspective, so my thanks go to all.
AlmostHuman, your theme of children needing genuine and loving PARENTS really hit a chord with me. Thanks also for sharing what you learned about yourself during your journey.
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Written by girl4708

December 8, 2008 at 12:16 am

Posted in Q&A

32 Responses

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  1. Your advice then applies to every parent and is what every child wants and needs. I was not adopted – I am a mother who lost a child to adoption and parented three children, now all adults.

    I cannot help thinking that you have generalized just a bit too much to say that adoption should not be spoken of a sit is private and their adoptee needs t work it out alone. I think all individuals are very different and have different coping skills and needs. I think parents need to be sensitive to this and watch for signs and always keep the doors of communication OPEN.

    That doesn’t mean opening them at every oppositional and initiating discussions about adoption to th child or in front of th child. It means conveying that the subject is certainly NOT taboo and that they re strong enough to handle it and it will NOT not hurt them to discuss it if that would be helpful or desirable for the adoptee.

    For instance, one mother in a closed adoption observed her son staring at himself in the mirror. She said: “Wonder who you look like? I do.” I think gentle “normalizing” comments like this can be helpful but every person is different.

    Being a mother means always being wrong no matter what you do. You always run the risk of loving too little or sufficating and being told so loud and clear by your teens! I would never want to be a mother raising another’s child and have that extra burden on me….being hated for being part of and party to my child’s loss of his family and identity.

    Mirah Riben

    December 8, 2008 at 5:41 pm

  2. Just learned of a new resource that fits this topic:

    It is with great pleasure that I am writing to advise you of the publication of “The Colours of Me: Writing and poetry by adopted children and young people,” edited by Perlita Harris.

    Information about the Colours in Me:

    “Adoption is happy and sad at the same time. You get a new family but you lose one too” Muireann (age 10)

    What do adopted children and young people really feel about being adopted? How do they feel about being parted from birth parents and siblings and, for some, their country of birth? How much do they remember of their “previous” lives?

    Over one hundred contributors tell it like it is. Intensely moving, this collection of prose, poetry and artwork reveals how it feels and what it means to be adopted. With extraordinary clarity and candour the contributors – ranging from 4 to 20 years of age – describe the huge changes that adoption brings and the impact of these on their identity, their relationships and understanding of the meaning of “family”.

    Five sections explore many aspects of the adoption experience: adoption stories; on being adopted’ on being apart (from birth family); staying in touch; and revisiting birth place. A concluding section contains a series of poignant and encouraging messages to other adopted children and young people, adoptive parents and social workers.

    “All you adopted people! Believe: Believe in yourself, believe you can make it, believe in those around you and believe that YOUR life has probably changed for the better! Amy (age 17)

    Publication date: 21 November 2008
    Publisher: British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF)
    Number of pages: 220
    ISBN: 9781905664597
    The Colours in Me is available from BAAF (see http://www.baaf.org.uk or tel: 020 7421 2604) for £12.95 plus p&p.

    Mirah Riben

    December 9, 2008 at 2:19 pm

  3. “Because you contributed to the process that caused them pain, even if your contributions were honourable. And they care about not hurting you.”

    Freaking hell.

    You’re brave to say something like this, Suki… very brave.
    How can we blame those and make them understand they contributed to the process – even those of us who had the BEST experiences – without guilting them?

    We can’t.

    “If you guys had just stayed in Singapore…”

    “If you guys had just tried to find a diverse neighbourhood…”

    “If you guys had just realized how much it would hurt me to contact Mama and Baba…”

    But how on earth do I say that without guilt-tripping them? How on earth do I admit their faults without making them feel like the worst parents on earth, because they’re *not*? I can’t.

    (Although I do agree with Mirah that not all adoptees feel it’s necessary to go “through” these things alone. Our parents are a source of comfort when we’re children, even when we talk about adoption.)

    Mei-Ling

    December 11, 2008 at 5:28 pm

  4. To both Mirah and Mei Ling:

    You’re right about being open and accessible, Mirah.
    But you’re wrong about being a mother means you are wrong no matter what you do. I am a mother of two, and I’ve never had any of these problems. Because we don’t dance around issues. We address them, solve them, and move on to enjoying each other.

    I haven’t generalized nor am I brave. I just require honesty. I believe that a relationship based on anything less than honesty isn’t much of a relationship.

    If I had a parent who had been honest about recognizing their participation in the process that caused me pain, if they had told me, “I’m sorry.” then I could have forgiven them and we could have begun a beautiful relationship based on recognition of the truth. It’s not an accusation. It’s a fact. And I can’t respect people who try to cover up facts they are ashamed of.

    Guilt is a by-product of cover up. It is self-generated.

    A guilt trip is a fabrication trying to induce a facsimile of this feeling. If it is the truth, then it is not a guilt trip. It is instead confronting the central issues. To avoid these central issues will forever be a barrier in your relationship. How they feel about that is their problem, not yours.

    The issue is not about laying blame and attempting to criminalize adoptive parents. The issue is how can we respect parents who lie to themselves and us?

    As a parent, I am not content to settle for a relationship that is so limited. I want to be able to talk about anything and everything with my children. I want true respect from my children, and I get it because I respect my children’s intellect and honor their emotions. There are no places off limits, even if that means I have to do some hard self analysis.

    girl4708

    December 11, 2008 at 7:45 pm

  5. A relevant quote from my post on removing the hypocricy from ethical adoption

    “At the essential core of both fronts is the surgery that is executed for adoption to take place, and the participation of institutions or individuals in that wound. What is frustrating is that the majority of potential and already adoptive parents reject acknowledging their participation in that reality. Because these issues are so fundamental to the relationship of adopted child and parent, the denial of or unwillingness to admit their role in this surgery can lead to an unbridgeable gap of mistrust, a gap that young children are unable to verbalize. The ends do not always justify the means. If the means were ugly, but only the beauty is promoted, then children are taught that their parents are hypocrites that can’t be trusted to be honest. This lack of trust prevents adoptee relationships with their adoptive parents from fulfilling its potential for depth and meaning.”

    girl4708

    December 11, 2008 at 7:54 pm

  6. “What is frustrating is that the majority of potential and already adoptive parents reject acknowledging their particpation in that reality.”

    Who wants to acknowledge that they had a hand in the separation of mother and child – or even in the case of China’s OCP, “secretly glad” that the mother couldn’t take care of her child?

    No one.

    Mei-Ling

    December 12, 2008 at 2:37 am

  7. A few actually get it. (after the fact) I’ve talked with them.

    It’s not hopeless.

    girl4708

    December 12, 2008 at 5:35 am

  8. Did your parents “get it”?

    How did you speak to those in a way so that they could “get it”?

    Mei-Ling

    December 12, 2008 at 4:26 pm

  9. Mei-Ling,

    I was estranged from my family the second I could make it happen, because they were totally inaccessible to talk to. We gave up on each other, and they died before we could make amends.

    All I know about relationships is a reaction to their repression and poor communication skills. My amazing relationship with my children is the joy and triumph of my life, and hopefully proves that people can learn.

    When you asked them:
    “WHY did you adopt me?”
    “What were your motivations?”
    Were you ever satisfied with their answer?
    Was it honest?
    What other questions does that make you curious about?

    There are two things going on here – Do you want to create a new climate of honesty? So you can respect each other more? And finally have the level of parent/child relationship you’ve always hoped for?

    Or do you actually want to blame them for that list of resentments you have? Because if you talk to your parents the way your wrote your list above, then of course they are going to feel vilified, accused, and condemned, and all introspection will evaporate. Those things can’t be un-done. It’s not productive. The most you can say is, “that hurt me” They can’t argue with that, because that’s your truth. Hopefully they can express their sorrow and regret over hurting you, and hopefully you can forgive them.

    And if they are honest, can you just accept their answer, even if it’s ugly? Can they be honest without backlash?

    Communicating is not for the faint of heart.
    Communication is risky business.
    Because they might not even attempt to be forthright. They might hide behind their roles. And that would be both disappointing and engender even less respect for them.

    That’s a risk only you can decide to take or not. It depends upon what level of relationship you want.

    You might also try outside resources to begin the conversation. The new “adopted” movie would be an excellent place to start. Tell them that it’s important for you to all watch it together. Work together afterwords to explore its themes within your own family.

    girl4708

    December 12, 2008 at 8:14 pm

  10. I didn’t write a list, Suki.

    Can you e-mail me, or send me your e-mail? I have some things I want to respond to that you mentioned in your comment, but I would prefer not to do it in public, if you know what I mean. It just gets really personal.

    Unfortunately I seem to have deleted the previous e-mail correspondences from you and I never put your e-mail in my contact list…

    Mei-Ling

    December 12, 2008 at 8:46 pm

  11. the list:

    “If you guys had just stayed in Singapore…”

    “If you guys had just tried to find a diverse neighbourhood…”

    “If you guys had just realized how much it would hurt me to contact Mama and Baba…”

    All very accusatory and would shut anybody down. Get rid of “If you guys had”

    pm me through AAAFC – i have a backlog of long emails to attend to and must continue packing all day so it may be awhile before I can respond.

    girl4708

    December 12, 2008 at 8:55 pm

  12. Oh, THAT.

    Hmmm… yeah, I know it comes across as judgemental and accusatory and wouldn’t get me anywhere. *sigh*

    That’s pretty much WHY I haven’t said those things, because nobody wants to be a sounding board for those types of accusations.

    Mei-Ling

    December 12, 2008 at 9:14 pm

  13. yes. resentment over things that can’t be re-done isn’t productive at all.

    one last thing before I get down to my liquidating work…

    everybody who’s ever done anything to cause anyone pain is always seeking redemption. you can’t ask people to acknowledge a role in your pain without also offering redemption.

    adoption is a political issue, and one’s position on adoption is a position that can be adjusted. one can acknowledge a misguided position and work towards a more enlightened world view. it’s really not fair to hold someone’s ignorance against them. you can only hold a position against someone when they know better. this is why adoption is so complicated and confusing, because the end result to us in either case was/is pain.

    but resentment is personal and cancerous. we have to distinguish what was done in ignorance and what was perpetuated out of selfishness, apart from ignorance. we have to let go of the pains inflicted due to ignorance. we can only work on the portions which are perpetuating our pain. what’s done is done. it’s the denial of adoption pain and our personal responsibility in that pain which perpetuates continued pain.

    almost all adoptive parents enter into this social experiment in ignorance. almost all adoptive parents are also evolving creatures who could not distinguish the feel good adoption rhetoric from their own self interests. if we help them recognize these distinctions, then they also need to be allowed avenues to make things right. we have to let them know that we need their help to improve relations and work towards a more positive outcome.

    getting to “i’m sorry,” and “it will be okay,” is the goal.

    redemption is a blog article in and of itself.

    girl4708

    December 12, 2008 at 9:50 pm

  14. ” it’s really not fair to hold someone’s ignorance against them. you can only hold a position against someone when they know better.”

    To what extent is ignorance excusable to, though?

    Mei-Ling

    December 13, 2008 at 3:19 am

  15. EXCELLENT question!

    Yesterday? Pretty excuseable.
    Today? Not very.

    girl4708

    December 13, 2008 at 3:21 am

  16. I am a mother of 2 natural born daughters,3 & 5, who are the center of my world. My oldest has a genetic disorder that requires her to get extra help. We are in the process of adopting a 3 year old with the same condition as my oldest and of the same culture as my family.

    In preparation for the adoption, I felt it important to research and understand the otherside of this process, my future daughter’s. I was struck by how you felt that your adopted parents “contributed to the process that caused them pain, even if your contributions were honourable”. I was moved because your sentiments can very well be those of my daughter’s. However, I want to understand how my adopting a child can contribute to a process that causes pain?

    My husband and I are not pursuing this complicated, exhaustive and dare I say, expensive, process out of selfish needs. This little girl is as desired and wanted by us as the little women I carried in my body. We anxiously await the day she is given to us so we can begin this next chapter in our family’s life. We chose to have children with the purpose of giving the best of our selves, and giving love unlimited. For us family, is the most important thing in life.

    Do you believe that the choice to not adopt her would free her of us inflicting pain on her?
    I find it hard to believe that wanting to give her a home full of love, respect and open communication is the preferable to leaving her in an orphange. My little 3 year old has no one but the nuns who look over her. There is no one to hold her at night, rock her to sleep and comfort her when she needs it. The medical care that accompanies her condition, requires parents to hold her hand when the going gets tough. It demands obstinate parents who will do what ever it takes to raise her into a happy, healthy beautiful young woman.

    I would like to better understand your point of view. Do you believe that living in an orphanage in your native country would be preferable?

    There is no question of the influence parents have on their children. We can’t choose who raises us. we are stuck with who we are given too. Simply put bad parents, be it natural or adoptive, can wreck havoc on your life.
    No one is immune to that reality.

    Leslie

    January 25, 2009 at 3:10 am

  17. “Do you believe that the choice to not adopt her would free her of us inflicting pain on her?”

    ARGHH!!!! You’re missing the point entirely. This isn’t an either/or. This isn’t about what you did right or did wrong in obtaining your child. This isn’t about you. This isn’t about whether they’d be better off with you or in an orphanage. (which, btw, isn’t always a given) This is about allowing your child to feel what they feel. By not acknowledging what they feel, you place a wall between you and limit your relationship. I’m freaking saying this to help your children have a better relationship with their parents.

    The point is when parents fail to acknowledge a truth as big as this one – that the act of adoption is traumatic and they were part of the trauma process – they tell the child that some truths are off limits – they tell the child that negative feelings about adoption are not okay. This message is strong. It suppresses our self expression.

    Being ripped from all we knew for a better life is traumatic – even if the outcome is good. And if our parents only recognize what makes themselves look favorable and dismiss anything less than glowing, then we learn our parents have selective vision. So we adoptees are put in the position of having to support a selective vision that denies our own feelings. That’s a hard place to be. A lonely place to be. It is not in the best interests of the emotional health of the child.

    You can’t help us grieve a loss if you don’t recognize the loss. We can love you despite your benevolence causing us pain. But as long as you’re on your lofty self congratulatory high horse and infallible, only acknowledging the good you do, then there will be limits to how close we can be or how much we can respect your level of honesty. I’m speaking for adoptees for the things they may never be able to say to you.

    I’ve said this seven ways to Sunday now and have exhausted my toolkit explaining this to you, but this is key to transcend the typical adoptee/adoptive parent disquiet. If you can’t be real about adoption and yourself, then you can’t have a real relationship with your children. You will only be adoptive parents. Which is so much less than it could be. The choice is up to you.

    girl4708

    January 25, 2009 at 10:00 pm

  18. “Do you believe that living in an orphanage in your native country would be preferable?”

    That sounds awfully like the argument “What were we supposed to have done? Those children being affected by the OCP were *already* IN AN ORPHANAGE when we came along! Do you think it would have been better?”

    No. I think it would have been better if we could raise awareness of how corrupt the system is so that kids don’t END UP in orphanages to begin with.

    I think it would have been better if support could be given to families who need it as opposed to snatching their kids (not literally) and placing them in orphanages just because their parents happened to NOT have x amount of money to pay for having more than one birth or a medical bill.

    I think it would have been better if we agree that mothers don’t have children for the sole purpose of having to get them away just because those mothers happen to be disadvantaged and powerless to fight against the possibility that those kids end up in orphanages.

    Mei-Ling

    January 26, 2009 at 10:09 pm

  19. *for the sole purpose of having to GIVE them away

    Mei-Ling

    January 26, 2009 at 10:10 pm

  20. “I think it would have been better if we agree that mothers don’t have children for the sole purpose of having to get them away just because those mothers happen to be disadvantaged and powerless to fight against the possibility that those kids end up in orphanages.”

    As an adoptive parent and someone who feels a deep connection to women of the world this is a fundamental issue, not just with adoption but also with women’s rights. It bothers me to no end the amount of blame I hear adoptive parents place on thier children’s birthmothers. Many women around the world are powerless in the face of politics like the OCP, or to cultural and religious pressures where their wombs are not their own. knowing that I participated in a system where one woman’s loss was my gain pains me. I am not convinced that just having enough money to pay a fine would have prevented my daughter from being abandoned, I believe the OCP and cultural pressures in rural villages is more complex than that. However the inherent complexity of poverty, culture and politics caused my daughter to live the first eight months of her life in an orphanage. This same policy gave me the most amazing daughter any parent could wish for. There is pain and joy in this complex system.

    Dawn

    January 29, 2009 at 3:03 pm

  21. “I am not convinced that just having enough money to pay a fine would have prevented my daughter from being abandoned, I believe the OCP and cultural pressures in rural villages is more complex than that.”

    But that is the main source. Let’s say the OCP didn’t exist. Would those girls have still been abandoned, considering that usually IS why they have been abandoned?

    What makes the OCP “okay” in some regions but not in others? After all, I see Chinese women growing up health, safe and happy in cities like Beijing and HongKong. What made their circumstances so much more fortunate than those who have to relinquish, such as in Hunan?

    Mei-Ling

    January 29, 2009 at 6:06 pm

  22. I agree that without OCP the abandonment of healthy children would stop. My point was that I believe the OCP coupled with numerous other factors cause abandonment of Children. In the China adoption community many people are talking about increased economic prospertiy causing fewer abandonments. This is probably true to some extent, but I have a hard time believing economic prosperity alone will lead to fewer abandonments. My daughter is from Guandong, which is the wealthiest province in China, yet it has the largest gender imbalance of any province in China (as of 2006). Aside from the OCP, there are more factors at play than money.
    In cities women have more opportunities and are not subjected to the same cultural and economic hardships that women in the country are subjected. However, education and an “authentic” acceptance of the advantages for families to only have one child, as well as more stringent enforcement of birthcontrol policies, change the outlook for women in cities . There is no doubt that economics play an enormous part in this issue, but money is not the only issue at play.

    Dawn

    January 30, 2009 at 3:11 am

  23. I just happened across this web site. I am both an adoptee and an AP. I think before people start making blanket statements about what parents should and shouldn’t do, everyone needs to realize that every adoptee is a different person and their parent(s) are different people, and adoptees have a wide variety of experiences with their family life. There is no such thing as the ‘adoption community’ to which all adoptees belong. We are individuals that share only the fact that we were not raised by the people who gave birth to us. We are as different from each other as we are from anyone else.

    To make these blanket statements of what APs should do to help their kids is just silly, because kids are different and need different things. Its up to the AP to do the best they can and decide what is best for their family. Sometimes decisions are right, sometimes they are wrong, but APs are not gods, they are not rocks, they are not stone, they are people, just like all of us. Its always difficult for kids (even as adults) to to remember that.

    I have a Chinese friend, who’s family moved her to the U.S.A. when she was a toddler. Her family spoke their native language and wrote their native language, and exposed her to all kinds of cultural things. She had no interest in doing those things. She understands her language, but cannot speak it. She can’t read the Chinese writing. Now, in her 40s, she recognizes that she missed out, and wishes she hadn’t insisted that she drop out of Chinese language school, and tried harder to learn.

    Another Chinese friend of mine is raising her two bio daughters. They are also dis-interested in learning their home language, and reading/writing. Kids are their own people, and loss of culture is not an adoption problem, but a problem of the culture you grew up in. I have told my Chinese friends that I intend to put my adopted (from China) daughter in Chinese school to learn the language and writing. They laugh at me, and tell me its hopeless. I will still try anyway, and will speak a little Mandarin around the house.

    Now, as adults we certainly do know a lot more about what we needed as kids, what we wished had happened with our family, what we feel would have prevented the additional pain. But we should not push our feelings on “every adoptee” and “every AP”, as if all families are the same. An adult adoptee friend of mine from Korea says she has never ever had the most remote desire to learn to speak her birth language, nor visit Korea, nor connect with her culture, nor find her BPs. She does have lots of Korean friends, who she goes to for advice on what to do about racism issues and just for the joy of being with people that look like her. Her parents cannot be roll models for racism because they are not her race, but she does not feel angry that her parents adopted her, and raised her in in a lilly white neighborhood. She is truly happy and has no desire to be labeled “adopted and damaged”, and neither do I.

    I will make mistakes, every parent does. But I hope my daughter will one day know that adoption is not only pain, but pride.

    Vivian

    January 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm

  24. Well, of COURSE kids aren’t going to be interested in learning about their birth country if they’re not ENGAGED with people from their birth country.

    That’s like saying “Hey, you need to learn Mandarin because it’s your mothertongue, but you’ll NEVER get to use it in daily life because most people here speak English the majority of the time.”

    When I was in Chinese school, I did not like it. I wish my parents had forced it on me, even as I KNOW it would not have done any good.

    You see, I just plain wish adoption was NOT necessary – that mother and child did NOT need to be separated for adoption.

    “It’s up to the AP to decide what is best for their child.”

    Really? So what if they decide they will ignore racism and pretend their child isn’t Asian because they think it’s “best” that they don’t emphasize on their child’s uniqueness or that they don’t want their kid to feel “spotlighted out”?

    What if they decide diversity isn’t important either because they think it will fuel racism and their kids will develop preconceived notions about which ethnicity is ‘best’ and love should be enough?

    I’m not saying that booting Chinese Jr. to culture camp is a must. Of course not. But it’s better to hear from the experience of those who have DONE it than just assuming that as a parent, you know *everything* about your child. Adoptive parents may be parenting their children, but they do not know everything about their children.

    Mei-Ling

    January 30, 2009 at 7:34 pm

  25. “When I was in Chinese school, I did not like it. I wish my parents had forced it on me, even as I KNOW it would not have done any good.”

    That’s exactly what my non-adopted 40+ year old friend said about her Chinese school. Like I said, this is not an adoption issue, but an issue related to the country you are brought up in.

    “You see, I just plain wish adoption was NOT necessary – that mother and child did NOT need to be separated for adoption.”

    I get that, but it is unrealistic to think you can change China, and it is even more unrealistic to ask that a prospective AP to step in and change China instead of adopting a Chinese orphan. Many many many China APs are actually doing some things to make things better for Chinese orphans. My daughter was able to get her spina bifida operation because of donations made by APs. My daughter would have died had she not received the surgery. She did almost die in the hospital because her severe malnutrition from living in an extremely poor orphanage. Many orphans before her did die. Spina Bifida is very common in China because of the lack of folic acid in the diet of birth mothers. You may not see it, or just may not know, but APs these days do more than you know to try and help orphans that they have no intention of adopting. It may not solve the problem, but it certainly does help prevent the orphan mortality rate.

    Another thing about my daughter, the orphanage named her Dang (third tone) which means “Communist Party” in Mandarin, which many orphanages are using as a surname for their orphans. Many orphans that grow up have to either live with the name and everyone knowing that they do not have a family, or going through a very lengthy court process to change their surname. If they keep the name they are shunned by many in society. APs are also working to change this.

    “I’m not saying that booting Chinese Jr. to culture camp is a must. Of course not. But it’s better to hear from the experience of those who have DONE it than just assuming that as a parent, you know *everything* about your child. Adoptive parents may be parenting their children, but they do not know everything about their children.”

    I really have a bone to pick with this sort of point of view. This is not really an adoption issue. It is a parenting issue. There are good parents and bad parents out there. The good ones will know to take racial issues seriously. No parent can know everything. Parents are human and will make mistakes. That is a fact every kid, adopted or not, must face. But I don’t see anyone questioning the rational of bad biological parents. It really ticks me off that APs and adoptees get put under a microscope, as if its okay for society to judge them, but biological kids and parents get off scott free.

    I hope you will come to be a parent one day. You may then find yourself come full circle, and finally find some peace. I hope you do.

    Vivian

    January 30, 2009 at 8:28 pm

  26. “Like I said, this is not an adoption issue, but an issue related to the country you are brought up in.”

    How is it not? Because I had to be adopted, I was brought to a predominantly white country, which in turn made me want to fit in and NOT learn Chinese. If I had not been adopted, I would have *remained* in my country and learned Chinese.

    “It is unrealistic to think you can change China, and it is even more unrealistic to ask that a prospective AP to step in and change China instead of adopting a Chinese orphan.”

    If you mean me, personally, you are absolutely right. A few anti-adoption groups are NOT enough to change China. The entire country of Canada would have to start up a protest and probably go to China to raise enough awareness to make any profound effect on the government.

    It won’t be changed overnight. Nor in a thousand years from now. Probably not even in tens of thousands of years from now. But shouldn’t China be aiming at that? Shouldn’t people at least TRY – both China’s population and other countries? It is difficult, incredibly difficult, but the OCP has NOT been around since forever, and it WOULD be possible to change.

    It’s like saying adoption can’t be eradicated. Of course it can. Completely? Probably not. But it can be decreased in time, and if we raised enough awareness and tried to help out other countries, it might be feasible within ten thousands years from now. It is something we should be working towards, not just sitting back and saying “Well it is idealistic but not realistic.”

    People are dying today of cancer. So far, most types of cancer are incurable. Does that mean we should stop looking for a cure just because people keep dying today because there is currently no cure? Are we being idealistic about the fact that we can possibly FIND a cure, or should we remain realistic that cancer is just unstoppable?

    China’s OCP is not incurable. China’s OCP is the result of a corrupt government system. There is a strong preference for boys, yes – enough of a gender imbalance that people are stating 20% of China’s males won’t be enough to find wives. But the OCP ITSELF has not existed since forever. The OCP ITSELF is NOT a traditional preference. It just happens to be the government’s choice for an overflowing population, which happens to indicate girls will inevitably be the latter choice and therefore end up being the ones cast out of the country.

    The OCP is already being loosened in a few regions. Parents are allowed to have children in some parts of the country. So it is not unfeasible to try and change minds around about the OCP and encourage women to keep their children. It is incredibly difficult, but not impossible.

    The issue of culture camp stems from adoption. If the child was not adopted, they would not have ended up in America and most parents would not feel the NEED to send their kids to culture camp to keep the link “alive.” Most biological parents that I know don’t have a need to send their kids to culture camp – because their kids AREN’T ADOPTED and therefore haven’t lost any links to their heritage.

    “I don’t see anyone questioniing the rationale of bad biological parents.”

    Oh, I think people do. You just don’t see it in the adoption world, because the whole idea of adoption is that the adoptive parents will be “better” and provide the “better life.” It’s like an unspoken generalization in society that adoption equals better.

    Also, there are some parents who feel they are entitled to children that they can’t have biologically. They won’t necessarily be bad parents, but with such a statement – the only reason they do adoption because they can’t have ‘their own’ – is it any wonder that adoption is still seen as a 2nd choice and that SOME parents feel entitled to kids because they CAN’T have ‘their own’?

    There are seemingly double standards presented to adoptive parents because they are raising someone else’s kids as their own.

    Yes, adopted kids ARE their own, through paperwork and legal ties. But those kids were once somebody else’s children too.

    Mei-Ling

    January 30, 2009 at 10:46 pm

  27. ETA: “You may not see it, or just may not know, but APs these days do more than you know to try and help orphans that they have no intention of adopting.”

    Actually, I do believe you on this one. I have heard of APs that DO donate and send money and various things to the orphanages. I don’t know how many just send stuff without expecting to get “repaid” in some way, or how many help out without ANY intention of adopting at all – hence the label “adoptive PARENT” but I do know and have heard of a few who are willing to help out.

    Can you please link me to some articles and possibly blogs? Now I’m really curious as to what you have seen and heard in terms of APs helping out with orphanages. Have you heard of any prospective parents that started out the process, then helped out with the orphanage instead with absolutely no intention of completing the adoption process?

    Mei-Ling

    January 30, 2009 at 10:52 pm

  28. Adoption is not cancer, and the OCP is not the only social problem that make people abandon their children. Nor are abandonments only caused by social problems. Some parents simply don’t want to have kids.

    email me: vivian (underscore) ball at yahoo

    I will give you some good links for what you are asking.

    Vivian

    January 30, 2009 at 11:53 pm

  29. “Adoption is not cancer.”

    Exactly. Compared to the current research of cancer, adoption is not untreatable or unpreventable.

    “the OCP is not the only social problem”

    Well, no, but it is still the main factor and ONE of the biggest issues contributing to child abandonment. If we took away the OCP, not AS many girls would be abandoned. Sure, quite a few would still, but many would NOT.

    Mei-Ling

    January 31, 2009 at 5:41 pm

  30. to Girl4708, I LOVE your “aargh” response above. Thank you for breaking it down into such simple terms; it finally makes sense to me. “You can’t help us grieve a loss if you don’t recognize the loss”. Wow, that really helps. I’m already in this thing, I can’t go back, I’m regretful that I didn’t know more about the adoptive experience before I adopted my daughter. I’m realizing though that my feelings about my child and her past and her adoption are changing. As I watch her grow I become more aware of her sense of self. I want to do everything I can to make her proud, self-confident, self-aware, assured and above all, loved for who she is. I can acknowledge her loss and I realize that sadly, her loss is what brought her to us and while I meant to harm in adopting her, I can see that I did participate. Don’t get me wrong….I’d do it again, but I do want to learn everything I can about HER feelings about what happened to her so I can be there while she processes.

    ShariU

    May 1, 2009 at 12:57 pm

  31. Oh my goodness… I didn’t mean I wanted “TO” harm…..I meant “NO” harm!

    ShariU

    May 1, 2009 at 1:00 pm

  32. Thank you, ShariU

    It’s nice when my voice actually reaches someone. Your daughter is fortunate to have a mom who really cares about her.

    teacher4708

    May 1, 2009 at 2:33 pm


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