Imaginary Mothers' Blog, written by my friend, Jackie Arias. Jackie is an international adopted person of Hispanic origins and a wonderful spokesperson for her peers who are in the same boat. She and I are not riding the same train, but she has my respect. I found this to be a most telling passage;
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu, Father of Taoism
"As the debates on adoption continue, and yet another adoptee is abused (re, Russian adopted boy returned to Moscow..*RW) I can’t help but to think about unconditional love. How important is it for a child’s development and emotional stability?
In my experience I have seen many people adopt that offer only conditional love – a love which asks for something in return. My brother and I were told, “If you are a ‘good’ child then you will have a home. If you reciprocate for all that has been given to you, then you will be loved and you will not be sent back to Costa Rica.” It was an extraordinary amount of pressure to place on us. Somehow we had to find a way to fill a void in our adoptive parent’s life."
All I can think, when I have confronted the truth of that, is what a terrible burden to place on the shoulders of a child. What happens when the child fails to fill that void? What messages are given to that child about their lovability and personal value? I can refer to my own two surrendered children on that one. Their pre-verbal grief was never recognized nor addressed. They suffered for it.
My daughter asked many questions about me which, obviously, threatened the people who adopted her. As a result, my daughter was told a lot of lies. I hate it when they tell the child, "your mother gave you up because she loved you." Now that is nonsense to a child. The better and truer phrase would be, "your mother surrendered because she had no other choice." My son acted out and his adopter was an old proponent of never sparing the rod.
This is something that others mothers and I have discussed, often...the inability of our children to recognize and freely accept unconditional love. Some of our adult children even seem to fear it, mistrust it and reject it as alien. Well, it is alien to their experience.
When the EMS began, it became all about a child for a home rather than a home for a child. We mothers were a "problem" to be solved and our bonds with our children were seen as negligible. The phrase "as if born to" and the idea of tablua rasa, or the infant as a "blank slate" were the order of the day. The social engineering efforts went into high gear and the numbers of infants coerced from their mothers literally exploded. In most states, this high-handed coercion and discrimination was completely legal. What was the norm then, is politically incorrect, now, but don't tell that to the Christian right-wingers and the Good Old Boy conservatives.
Of course, adopters were disappointed when that "as if born to" didn't materialize. They were even more disturbed when the children they adopted evinced personality traits and talents and preferences that didn't fit with their family. The blank slate came with a blood heritage that wouldn't be denied. So, if the child did not do well because they were frightened, confused, angry or grieving, it was all put down to "bad blood." For the child, it was either blend in, pretend to be who they wanted you to be, or lose the love that every child so desperately needs.
Now before any knickers get knotted, I don't think that all who adopted were that deep into the fantasy that they couldn't realize that they were raising a child who was born to a stranger. For those who did realize that and gave the rare, unconditional love and acceptance the child needed, kudos. I wish you were the majority.
But what Jackie wrote about in her blog is important, even if the adoption was domestic. It has helped me see the reasons behind and the validity of the feelings the adoptee has. Too often, those feelings are transferred to the mother (the "abandoner") rather than the reality of the situation. But, if love is conditional, then who would want to test the conditional love of the adopter by blaming adoption and its undercurrents? For better or for worse, that life with those conditions are all the adopted person knew and it is always, as the phrase goes, "better the devil you know than the devil you don't."
So, when put forth in a manner of respect and information, without putting the mother on the defensive and calling names, it can be understood. We might still refuse, and rightly so, to take on the onus of responsibility, especially if our surrender (which has nothing to do with the actual adoption) was coerced or illegal as in Jackie's case. But we can feel for our children. This is not how a child should be raised which brings up the question of why anyone would have a child they didn't want, or adopt a child that cannot fulfill the adopter's fantasies? Neither HAS to happen..not today.
I wanted both my children, desperately. Even my son, whose conception was less than "consensual," was deeply loved and his presence seen as separate from the acts of his father. I know that and my children know that. But I don't think they will ever, 100% believe it because they keep trying to earn my love. They don't have to do that. They have had it ever since they were born and still have it, no matter what they do or don't do. I might not support their bad decisions, but I will support them as my children. That's unconditional love. It isn't indulgence, it isn't being too strict or too lenient, it isn't subjugating our own needs and it isn't something a child should have to earn.
You don't usually see an adult, raised child publish, in a public forum, an impassioned paean to their natural mothers or show gratitude for us not aborting them. We might get mushy cards and chatty phone calls on Mothers' Day, but no one takes out an ad or hires an orchestra. Nurturing and unconditional love are a child's rights.
Take either from them, and you damage the child.