Monday, August 16, 2010

The Paradox Project

A friend, an adoptee, is gathering ideas for a blog on paradoxes and I am going to send her to this blog for another entry. I am going to concentrate on one of the first paradoxical shocks to my system..the humanity of the adopters.

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.


Anonymous said...

I was lucky in that my adopters were more interested in 'properly parenting' *whatever* child they managed to get their hands on to raise - but that didn't stop the distortion nor the half truths.

I love my afam. completely because they actually did try to do what they thought was "for the best", but with time, the knowledge of what's "for the best" changes, and nothing at all can go back and correct any of the mistakes that were made, not even those that were made with the best of intentions.


Robin said...

I hear you, Honey. Adoption, itself, is dysfunctional, and the mistakes made out of ignorance are just as damaging as the ones made out of insecurity and selfishness. We can't go back, but we can acknowledge and accept and grow.

Just Me said...

You need a LIKE button - again! Sometimes, some days, I just don't have anything to say. I'm in one of those moods so LIKE. LIKE. LIKE. :)

Lori said...

Robin, I have to agree. My child did not get any love at all. Conditional or otherwise. Her adopters were about money and possessions and public profiles. They adopted to be the "perfect family" and she was trained like a puppy to live up to their expectations...That certainly doesn't fit the lies told to all of us.

Sandy Young said...

I believe with all my heart that adopters felt that they were doing a public service taking in the unwanted babies of unwed mothers. Then we started speaking out, and they realized that the babies they took were NOT unwanted, and the mothers are angry. So, in order to continue to be able to endure the knowledge of the pain they caused another, they have to behave this way. THEY know they were not perfect. THEY know they had a larger obligation to the mothers that they didn't always live up to. THEY know, deep inside, that mothers were forced to do this heinous thing against our will.

THEY know that they created the market. THEY know that their wishes trump ours and why and that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the "best interest of the child" since the "children' are in their milddle age. THEY know, but they cannot bear it, so they blame us so they can continue to live in their skin.

Eileen said...

Thanks for another wonderful post Robin. In the short 7 months that I have been in reunion, I have learned more than I ever wanted to about how I am the imperfect one and the adopters are the saviors, which I find particularly funny given my situation. Short story - I hadn't told anyone that I was pregnant except for the father who wanted me to have an abortion. I didn't want that so I told no one else and went to the hospital emergency room when I went into labor. Unfortunately for me the doctor who delivered my baby was on the lookout for a child for some close friends of hers who couldn't get pregnant (yet). I went to the hospital never having considered adoption yet I left 48 hours later without my child. Somehow though the adopters still told my daughter that she was special and chosen! The adoptive mother has told me that God wanted my daughter to be with them and that when my daughter would cry for me when she was younger that she prayed with her that she would someday be able to forgive me.

My daughter also told me that she was often told that she must have a lot of me in her. When do you think that came up - when she was being a perfect angel? I have also been told by the adoptive mother that despite her best efforts, my daughter has been angry and difficult since she was a baby. She's defective - it must be her bad genes. The adoptive mother got pregnant even though she was supposedly infertile a year after adopting my daughter, so she can compare my angry daughter to her perfect son. I can only imagine what damage this has caused my daughter.

Von said...

Yep adoption sucks however good the intentions, however hard adopters try to be good parents.They are needy and no kid should bear that burden.

Linda said...

I listed some of my paradoxes on Amanda's facebook page, but earlier today, I thought of another.

Some adoptees, upon entering reunion, are told by their first families and their adoptive families that their first family consists of total strangers.

I always respond that my adoptive parents were complete and total strangers when I was placed with them, yet I grew to love them. I may have been separated from my first family, but they will never be strangers.