Healing©2007 Celeste Billhartz
Forced surrender and coercion have always been the underbelly of infant adoption, along with the shaming of yesterday and the schmoozing of today. We know the girl/mothers, past and present, never got over the loss of their babies. That, alone, should be reason enough to end infant adoption.
How do we heal this open wound? Many want the girl/mothers to forgive and forget. Others want them all to just go away ... again. Well, that isn't going to happen. They are 80 and 70 and 60, 50 40, 30 and .... as young as 20 ... and they are not keeping quiet about their losses and the misdeeds of others.
They know they were taken advantage of as girl/mothers and they are telling the truth.
Healing begins, for many older moms, when they meet their children and know they are OK. It begins for younger moms when strained conversations with adoptive mothers fade. It begins when their own mothers -- who refused to help them keep their babies -- apologize. One of the most powerful sentences a mother ever told her daughter was this: "I am sorry I gave your child away."
I often wonder how future social engineers, researchers and writers will assess this anomaly in our culture. How could so many people have been so wrong for so long? Wasn't adoption good and sensible hundreds of years ago, when orphaned pioneer children, who lost their parents in the move west, climbed into the covered wagons of other families and became part of their lives? I suspect none of those adoptive parents pretended the children were their own. I suspect they introduced them as the children of so and so.
Things went wrong when greed turned infants into commodities and demand created a market that is stronger than ever.
There are many good women who bought infants from orphanages, church organizations, doctors, lawyers and baby brokers .. and raised them right. They believed what they were told -- the mothers were too young to keep the babies, or they had plans for college, and the babies needed good homes. The baby-marketers lied, the government lied, the churches lied. And, all the while, the middle-class mothers of the unmarried mothers remained silent -- grateful to be relieved of scandal.
So, how do we heal ourselves -- mothers, adoptees, and our grandmothers and our adoptive mothers?
Here are some ways to start, right now, right where we are:
1. Families and friends, churches and organizations -- especially women's organizations -- please, accept and respect single women as mothers, support them financially and emotionally, and welcome them -- with their babies -- to your families, churches and organizations.
2. Women-of-conscience, please stop adopting. Use your maturity and financial security to mentor young mothers and their babies. Do not buy their babies and imagine they are your own. The businesses and agencies who troll for white babies and schmooze buyers for them, will not stop on their own. Women must stop buying the babies.
3. Adopted adults -- find your mothers and natural families and spend time with them. Learn who you are and why you do the things you do. You are not cheating on your adoptive mother by loving your natural mother. It's ok to love them both.
4. Adoptive mothers -- recognize that reunion is not about you. Be gracious, be cooperative, be accepting of the reunion and the usual ups and downs that go with it. You don't have to like this outcome, but you must accept it. You owe that to his/her mother. Her loss was your gain. Be kind.
5. Kinship Care must replace Foster Care/Adoption. Too many infants and toddlers are rushed into faux-foster homes so that faux-foster mothers can adopt them and agencies can get a bonus. Families and responsible friends must be allowed to take in the infants and toddlers when allegations of neglect or abuse are made. You, in social services, please do the right thing. Please influence your agencies and professional organizations to support Kinship Care over Foster Care/Adoption for infants and toddlers.
Adopted people love their adoptive families and mean them no harm, but the desire to know who we are is deep and lasting. We must know all our people. Then, perhaps, healing can begin.