Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Burden of Gratitude

"Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful" - The Reverend Keith C. Griffith

The truth is, often, unpalatable and upsetting. But this is one truth that has to be re-stated on a regular basis. The adoption industry and those who drive the market for the industry cannot dispute nor disprove the fact that they have created a mythology where gratitude is expected from both the adoptee and the exiled mother.

One of the truisms about this invasion of our most sensitive, human relationship is that, in order to procure an infant for adoption, in most cases the mother must be systematically destroyed. Her ability to see herself as an effective parent must be obscured and her self-esteem diminished to a mere whisper of its former size. She is then told to go and make a life for herself and be grateful that she "did the right thing" for her child.

I hear some of the birthditzes of today talking about how overjoyed and grateful they are that their child is being raised by such "wonderful, fantastic, Christian, stable, add-your-own-adjective" people. When they say these things, I want to check their pupils for dilation. But that gratitude is expected of them and they comply. Can I just say the entire concept sucks, big time?

Worse, still, is the attitude of gratitude that is forced on our appropriated children from infancy. There is the specious comment, "aren't you grateful you weren't aborted?" To which I have to reply, "How would you know to be ungrateful if you were? How would you even know? You wouldn't be here to debate it."

But there is more to it than just the abortion controversy. There is that overt expectation of the adoptee that they show extreme gratitude for what other children take as a given. They, like all humans, didn't ask to be born. Since they were, they deserve care and nurture. People usually have children and adopt children because they want them. So why should there be the onus of gratitude on the adoptee? It seems to me that it should be the other way around.

Instead, I often hear paeans of praise and gratitude from adoptees that go beyond the normal expressions of love and respect for parents. The very nature of adoption, a child for the childless or for a home, places the responsibility on the shoulders of an infant, from day one of placement, for the emotional well being of the adopters. As the adoptee grows, so does that sense of obligation promulgated by the mythology.

Now, my raised children will defend me to the death as I would them. But if I act like a bitch, they will call me on it and will not uphold my bitchiness. On both ends, with my raised children, there have been times when we deserved the respect of each other and times when we didn't. That's life. I sure don't expect adulation for doing what I wanted to do...have and raise children.

In the case of the adoptee, you would think that they were the blessed recipients of a visit from the Gods. I have heard so many dramatic hymns of praise, both vehement and belligerently challenging to anyone who might say otherwise, for their adopters from some that are so overdone I want to bite into something bitter to get the taste of saccharine out of my mouth. I have to wonder who they are trying to convince...us, their adopters or themselves?

I'm not saying that a little gratitude is a bad thing. It is nice to hear a child you raised thank you for something that you did that helped them. But to EXPECT this gratitude for no other reason than the fact that a child was adopted by some lucky people whose number came up is unnaturally self-serving and not the way a normal family interacts.

It would be one thing if it were only the adopters who expected this, but the average Joe and Jane on the street, unaffected, personally, by adoption, seem to expect it as well. Popular culture expects gratitude from the mother and the adoptee along with a lot of other things and manages to exaggerate the horrors of abortion, inflate the numbers of so-called "dumpster babies" and, sadly, thinks that Safe Havens are the best thing since the paper napkin.

Am I glad that my children got adopters who seemed to really care for them? Yes. But am I grateful? NO. They had the joy of raising my children. They also seem to have royally screwed up along the way. They should be grateful that I was young, vulnerable and helpless. They got what Nature intended for me. How could they expect my gratitude?

And for Pete's sake, I am tired of hearing adopted adults being reviled for the simple idea that they should be allowed to know about their beginnings and heritage. I am sick of hearing them called disloyal, ungrateful and spoiled. I am tired of mothers being depicted as eternal teens in trouble, needing someone else to tell them what they need. WE NEED OUR CHILDREN. It's what we've always needed. Our children need the right to know us, to meet us and to ask us important questions to which any raised child would already know the answers.

I am most sick at heart about the fact that it all comes down to who has the money and who has the power. Because of these attributes, the burden of gratitude and near servitude is laid on our children and the burden of being called angry, bitter, damaged and other things is laid on both adoptee and mother.

But think about this. Every time a mother refuses to cringe in a closet, and every time an adoptee stands up and says "I am not obligated to anyone when it comes to my human rights," it is a victory. We are doing and saying what the Industry and their customers don't want us to do and say. They say the truth will set you free and I think that is true. It's very effective against false burdens of unearned gratitude.

Gonna lay my burden down, Lord. I'm gonna lay my burden down. Sing-along, anyone?


Lori said...

Robin, your post is eloquent and lovely, in your usual fashion.

I liked the statement that "We Need Our Children" - because it rings like a clarion.

It amazes me that we acknowledge the right of Native Americans and many other groups to have final say on who raises their children and veto power over any "adoption" etc., that is outside of the family group because of the alienation of a people being an issue....but still can't apply that to the entirety of humanity...

After all, I am fairly certain that my small corner of Irish/Welsh blood would truly benefit from having my daughter as an actual part of the family, with a full family history....including the ability to move within the family group without feeling odd or uncomfortable...

People just don't get it.

Von said...

Great post, it needed saying and you say it so well.I needed to hear this today, thank you!

Real Daughter said...


Susie said...

This is a great post ~ and a great reminder of why I refuse to cringe in the closet any longer!

Anonymous said...

Morning Robin,

Again you have hit the nail on the head for
mothers and adoptee's. This is the only loss
that society thinks we should be "grateful"
for no one on their right mind would agree
with this absurdity. Again there are those
adopters and some adoptee's who do agree.

It will be a cold day on hell when I am grateful
for adoption. Adoption is an inhumane act
against nature. Only man could think up such
a skewed thought process.