Tragedy and Stigma

I think I have a full post in here in the Noggin…I’m gonna peek, wanna come?

There was a discussion on SoA regarding whether of not adoption can be seen as a tragedy. Still reeling from my conversation with Max’s dad (no, I have not heard from him nor have I heard form Max since I told him I saw his dad) and telling this man that yes, you have a son and yeah, we totally cheated you out of knowing that…well, really..it was pretty damn Tragic and so I stayed with that and said yeah, for me, tragedy.

Now of course, folks chimed in and some said that adoption brought joy to their lives..which yes, coming form the parents perspective, to me, is a given. And adoptees that can see the losses, also can feel that perhaps that they were served well by the adoption and it was not of tragic proportions..that the gains outweighed the losses. But the conversation itself was that IF all things were equal…bio family or adoptive family in terms of finances, emotions, stability, etc..so child in question was not in danger or having any less a life if raised by the family of birth, THEN the act of adoption for that child was, indeed, tragic..simply because it never had to happen.

Adoption IS a Tragedy

I had a written a list of things that Max lost from being raised away from us..just a particle list…and after it was deemed “stupid” to make such a list,(??) I still maintain that it is tragic that that list even had to be made. To me, adoption is like original sin, but with no baptism. See, if we are born with original sin..it’s like that automatic weight that we must carry though life…you can’t avoid it, it is human nature..to question, to test limits, to want more, to make bad choices..and so we ride ourselves of it ( how convenient for the Church) so we can have a clean slate and go though life encumbered.

In fact adoption is like the anti original sin…it is from the beginning already casting that first mark upon a baby’s clean slate. It is adding a lump of coal to their nice clean and shiny book bag of emotional baggage. Now maybe the child in question has a big bag to carry and the adoption lump might get lost, or maybe this child has strong shoulders and can carry it well, but maybe, for some, it is a lump that just doesn’t have to be there..and why dirty up a nice clean and shiny emotional bag for nothing?? Why give them something that they might have to struggle with if they don’t have to? Lord knows they will manage to fill up that bag on their own..why help?

But society does help by blessing this thing called adoption. It’s hard because for so many, they DO see it as a good thing for it brings what they want so much but cannot have in their lives..children, but for us moms, well it sure is the very personal nightmare that becomes a life of an exiled relinquishing mother. Adoptees seem to come in with a mixed bag ( ohh bad pun!!) and some are fine, some are fine and see loss, and some are not fine, but often anyone who sees the joy aspect really really wants their kids to be just fine..and they seem to think that they can mitigate the loss and pain aspect just because they want to and it fits their needs. Yet, they do not have the power of the priest to absolve that original sin of adoption..no matter how much they want to. That’s for the adoptee to decide..whether of not they need an exorcist!

 The Biological Family IS Better

To me, though, it is a simple case that if all things are equal, then yes, I will say it, bio is better. This doesn’t dismiss that there are great parents who happen to be adoptive parents, nor to say that they don’t have anything of value to bring to a child’s life, but unfortunately , no matter what else they bring to the table, they cannot bring those genetic connections.
So then we can get into dismissing the genetics and all, but to me it is just a simple fact. I give value to the genetic connection, granted at times, I might cling to it, for it is the only claim I have to Max that has not been filled by his parents. But it is what I have, and really, no matter how much they can try, they still can’t fake it. It’s just not there. Other things might be there, I am sure great love and affection are there, but nope, no genetics. And as I have said before, there is a chance that I can play catch up on the life history, the shared memories, the love, the bond, the affection, but they can’t get to the same place in genetics. So, dismiss it all you want coz you still can’t have it. I don’t say that as a threat, but just as a fact.

Anyway, that gets into the whole stigma thing. And to me, yes there is that stigma in adoption..there is that inherent loss. Now again, that does not mean that that an family formed by adoption is “lesser” or to be dismissive of the parents in question, but should we try to avoid places where a loss is automatic or even possible? YES I say!

Now maybe I say that because I am a terrible radical extremist ( insert canned studio laughter for those who get the joke)..and with adoption, yes, I do talk about the dern thing all live long day. I am not some secret poster who is silent about it in my real life and vent all kinds of things here and on other boards, but rather, this is how I do present myself to the world. THIS is what I do..and I am not hiding about it. In fact, I am surprise they have not told me to SHUT UP already at work, but really I am lucky because I have great support for my “work” and real encouragement by my peers and family, who are proud that I do this.

There Should be a Stigma in Adoption

In any case, I would say a good deal of people in my real life DO have a much better view of adoption based on my speaking about it. If nothing else they see that I am a real person, not the fictions crack whore, and I am proud to say that no one at my job will take their fertility for granted nor go easily to “well, you could always just adopt!”…and to me that is GOOD…for their SHOULD be a Stigma.

Right now there are many many people who are trying to get adoption to be recognized and accepted as great legitimate way to build a family…and that is from their ends. And on their parts, I can’t really complain. Yes, it would be great if people stopped asking stupid unintelligent questions, especially the one’s said in front of a child that can make them feel lesser, but sometimes, some of those “stupid” questions are so spot on that I know why the parents get all up in arms, it hits too close to home.

Just like when some “stupid” person might say “Oh, I could never give away my baby”. Yes, that is a judgement and yes, that hurts. Yes, it feels bad to hear that and the little voices in our heads recoil and say “Yeah, well you just don’t know!” Yes, it makes us feel lesser because we did such a thing, but really, that’s OK…for it really SHOULD NOT BE OK TO GIVE AWAY ONES BABY!!!!

It’s NOT OK. Really, it sucks big donkey balls. And when on really did not have to do it, when there were other options, that one chooses to not see or never got any help to see them, or whatever..even then, it is NOT OK. It is not even ok when it is a choice. It is not Ok when one is “just not ready to parent at this time”..it is not OK when “a baby just does not fit into my plans at this time”..nope, not OK. It’s not OK to stick that emotional coal in a baby’s backpack just because sometimes it might turn out to be diamond. It might not, and even if it does, it is still not OK.

So all this talk about things changing and adoption coming out of the closet, and making it acceptable to be a “family built by adoption” means that we will have to try to make it OK to relinquish. And it should never be OK. It should be the final, last ditched, we have no other choice and clearly the best possible solution for a child…where their list of losses will be greatly overshadowed by the gains…not nearly equal, not just “better”, but big huge discrepancies.

And if it is anything else but that, if it is not so clear that the emotional coal/sin is not elevated above the genetic losses, and the situation is able to transcend the stigmas involved, then it is indeed a tragedy.

And no matter how else you WANT to look at it, well you are just wanting and hoping, because there are no adoption voodoo priests to make absolution. So you can hide if you want to in friendly places, but the bottom line is always the truth.

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About the Author

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Musings of the Lame was started in 2005 primarily as a simple blog recording the feelings of a birthmother as she struggled to understand how the act of relinquishing her first newborn so to adoption in 1987 continued to be a major force in her life. Built from the knowledge gained in the adoption community, it records the search for her son and the adoption reunion as it happened. Since then, it has grown as an adoption forum encompassing the complexity of the adoption industry, the fight to free her sons adoption records and the need for Adoptee Rights, and a growing community of other birthmothers, adoptive parents and adopted persons who are able to see that so much what we want to believe about adoption is wrong.

10 Comments on "Tragedy and Stigma"

  1. And, as it has been said before, “there is no YOUR truth and MY truth…there is only THE truth.” And the truth is that losing a child to adoption serves no one but the adopter and the people who make money from the transaction. That child can either flourish or not, but there will ALWAYS be a loss and I don’t believe any adopted person who says that there was no loss.

    When we mom have voiced our grief and pain, we have had some nasty people tell us, “well you should have kept your legs together.” For the adoption-culture brainwashed new moms, not being “ready to parent” or the fact that “a child just doesn’t fit into my plans right now,” I want to give a similar answer. I want to tell them, “That’s just too bad, because you could have prevented this. If you can take on the responsiblity of the act that leads to conception, then shouldn’t you take on the responsiblity for the child that was conceived? Why should you short-change your child because you ‘don’t believe in abortion’ or you forgot to take the pill or were ‘carried away’ or drunk or whatever?” JMO, but I can get really pissed off at that specious rationale to justify the act of “casual relinquishment.”

  2. As always, thanks, Claud. You tell it like it is.

    There’s so much to chew on in this post, but one thing jumps to the front of my mind – what you say about stigma.

    I think that one of the reasons we see so much positive press toward adoption and adoptive families is that there was a time in the not so distant past when stimatizing adoptees was the norm (and I would say that those days aren’t entirely past).

    Eliminating stigma for adoptees is certainly positive. But it never extended to first parents, who have born society’s judgment all along.

    So in my opinion, society’s positive attitudes toward adoption are skewed, based only on the experiences of adoptive parents and a desire to de-stigmatize the lives of adopted people. And I think they’ll stay skewed until first parent voices are heard in the same dialogs that establish the policies and write the laws.

    I know you work hard toward this kind of change. I would be interested in hearing what you see happening on a national level that may be a sign of positive change.

  3. I’m piggy-backing on to third mom’s post a bit here–because I think she’s right. I think our society–as a whole–is very unforgiving of bio-moms.

    And of course there is pain and loss with adoption for the adoptees. Absolutely. I think every adopteed goes through a number of stages once they accept the reality of adoption. I remember, when I first decided to search, thinking, “I’d like to meet my birthfather or birthgradparents.” I couldn’t even admit that I was angry or hurt. Even though it’s impossible to put yourself in anyone else’s shoes, talking to other bio-moms helped me to understand what my own bio-mom may (or may not have) went through.

    Hopefully we can all try to understand each other’s perspectives in this journey. It’s one reason I love the internet–it’s taught me a lot.

  4. For me, losing my daughter to adoption was and still is a tragedy. It doesn’t matter if it gave her a better chance or not, it was and still is painful.

    For people to deny that there is a dark side to adoption, that it’s something we must ALL celebrate is ignorant.
    I understand and respect that for the people who get our children it’s not a tragedy but still. I don’t want people dancing on my grave.

  5. the line that caught my eye was the judgement from others – “i could never give up my baby” and yes, i look at mine and cannot fathom it, cannot fathom them growing up in another’s house AND i see that you do say the same about the kiddies that came after max and that vision just reinforces the fact that no, you never gave up max, maybe physically but oh so not in any other way. the old don’t say a word until you have walked a mile in someones shoes, or something like that.

  6. SHOULD NOT BE OK TO GIVE AWAY ONES BABY!!!!
    It’s NOT OK. Really, it sucks big doneky balls. And when on really did not have to do it, when there were oter options, that one chooses to not see or never got any help to see them, or whatever..even then, it is NOT OK. It is not even ok when it is a choice. It is not Ok when one is “just not ready to parent at this time”..it is not OK when “a baby just does not fit into my plans at this time”..nope, not OK. It’s not Ok to stick that emotional coal in a baby’s backpack just becasue sometimes it might turn out to be diamond. It might not, andeven if it does, it is still not OK.

    Ugh. Wow. You did it again as usual. Got right to the core of the matter.

    The US needs to get a point where family preservation, mother child bond is viewed above all else. Infertility should never come into the picture.

    As you said, it should never ever be viewed to be okay to surrender your child. Their should never be a reason for a women to feel she needs to or is right to. Agencies who take babies from their mothers should be viewed as the demons – not the mothers.

    Judge a country by how they treat their children. Ours is not doing so well.

  7. Your resiliency amazes me, you suffer so many slings and arrows from outraged aparents. And respond so graciously.

    I don’t know, maybe that would mean more if it wasn’t coming from a neurotic extremist like moi.

  8. (enthusiastic cheers)

  9. I don’t think the non adopted know the painful side of adoption. I think the blind don’t want to see the dark side of adoption. Yep I feel the tragic side of adoption. I understand what robin says about adopters. My a mom loves the hell out of the daughter that my !@#$ mom threw out. Please don’t say otherwise. That is my truth and I unfortunately have to own it. For whatever reason, my other mother won’t own up. Its left for me to do. It is so hard for me to even relate her to me. I can relate to all the other original moms. I don’t know how many times that I had hoped it was one of the many moms that I speak to every day. Sorry I view this a little differently.

  10. i thought of some answer to the stupid comment “i could never give up my baby”

    How about: “I could never give up mine either. I never did. I was never given the chance to raise him. That was taken away from me.”

    Or for those whose babies were “scooped at birth”: “I could never give up a child either. Mine was taken from me at birth because i was young and unwed.”

    or “NO natural mother ‘gives up’ her baby. WE all wanted to keep our babies, but we were given no choice, no opportunity, no support and no encouragement.”

    I STILL don’t think any mother who was disembabied at birth or within days of it had any choice. NO choice at all. It was not “placing a baby”. it was being de-babied. you can’t make a non-coerced, informed ‘choice’ until you’ve recovered from birth and THAT takes at least six weeks for the hormonal and physical hurricane to subside.

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