Monday, August 16, 2010
The Paradox Project
You see, when we were in the maternity prisons of the EMS/BSE, we were really given the old hard sell where the potential adopters were concerned. We were given information that made all who adopt resemble a combination of Donna Reed, Mother Teresa and Florence Nightingale for the ladies and Ward Cleaver, Saint Peter and Ben Cartwright for the gentlemen. How could we, mere mortals, young, alone and vulnerable, hope to compete with these paragons? That was one more nail in the coffin in which the SW's hoped to bury our motherhood.
Whenever I found myself beside myself with worry over what might have happened to my two lost children, I would remember the glowing descriptions of the PAPs I received all those many years ago and would find a small measure of comfort in that and in my prayers for their welfare. I had to believe they were in the best of all possible worlds or go crazy.
Coming out of the fog was a shock to my system in more ways than one. I learned that those who adopt are no better than any of the rest of us. They divorced, had substance abuse problems, went bankrupt, had affairs and abused, yes abused, the children they adopted in proportion to those who raised natural children. It has even been postulated that the incidence of abuse is higher in adoptive situations. I know that one of my children endured it, physically. I know of more who were abused emotionally, physically and, to my rage and disgust, sexually. Even when there is the best of all possible situations, there is still a form of emotional abuse in the fact that these children were adopted, not because they needed to be, but because they were intended to fill a gap in the lives of the adopters. I also found that adopters can be very insecure.
I am sorry, but I think that being made to bear the burden of an adult's emotional well-being IS emotional abuse. I saw the results of conditional love. I saw the pressure, the lack of acceptance of the adoptee as they were and are. I saw the frustration, confusion and pain of the adoptee. I saw the lies the adopted were told. There was either the specious, non-sensical, "she gave you up because she loved you," (huh?) or we were dead (I was killed in an accident..yeah, right) or uncaring sluts or an amalgamation of all three. Hey, they had to find a way to get the kid's mind off that woman!
I know that there are exceptions in adopter-land, but to me, they only prove the rule. The biggest paradox of all is that, as it is stated over and over again, adoption is NOT about a home for a child but about a child for a home. Adopters are human, the are prone to the same shortcomings as any other person and they seem, for the most part, to have an extra "self-entitlement" gene from somewhere. Most of the ones I know are convinced that they deserved that child more than the child's natural mother did.
This is a paradox from the view of the Exiled Mother. We who have tip-toed through the eggshells, taken whatever was dished out by adopters and our children in the name of the adopters, and done anything else we could do to keep that found, adult child in our lives, see clearly through the fog of lies and fairy tales we were told as we struggled to find anyone who would help us keep our babies. That clarity is something with which we are cursed. Our tongues are scarred from the biting we do to keep the peace.
Just as all the general public has to do is look around them and the women going about everyday lives to see what an Exiled Mother looks like, all they have to do is look around them at the same people to know who the adopters are. Oh wait! With the adopters, there may be a slight glimmer of a halo.
They are saints, after all.