Boy, have I got some explaining to do.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a guest post that had shown up on America Adopts!, a pretty pro-adoption website. I thought to myself, “I wonder if I could guest post…” Call me naive, but change has to start in the places where it’s the least likely to happen. I don’t believe in the negativity that can be associated with pushing for change; I do believe that anger can be motivating, and I believe that if you are using it constructively, it can aid in great change. More so, I do believe that sometimes you have to stick your neck out and go into unfamiliar, even uncomfortable territory.
So I sent off an email to the website, and got a response back saying they were backlogged with June being Father’s day. Oddly enough, I knew that I had a post sitting the queue, waiting to be edited, about “birthfathers”, so I offered to send it to them for publishing. I’d been stuck on it for sometime, and thought this was a good forum to get out the message I’d been trying to convey.
We agreed to it, and I set about re-writing the piece.
As I continued to work on it, my gut sort of twisted in the way it does when my body is telling me something is a bad idea. Of course, I ignored it, and tried to convince myself with reason that this was a decent idea. Several people I “know” had been published on their blog, even if some of our views were differing. As I browsed their website, and saw the marketing of couples waiting for a perfect, infant baby, I knew deep down that I may want to rethink the whole idea. I ignored it, thinking that it simply be nerves.
Drafts happened, editing happened, and soon the piece was ready to be published. I was excited to see it go live, I was proud of the work I had done. I hoped it would be a good place to start a discussion on the importance of fathers in the open adoption equation.
I made the stupid mistake of not reading what they published on their site.
Stupid is absolutely the right word to use here, and I’m not a fan of the word. My words, words I entrusted them with had been altered. Paragraphs were hacked in to different subsections, making it look like it was the start of a new thought, making it look like I believed something I would never say. Words were cut here and there, even three little words taken out insinuated that I believed that children deserved two parent homes, and not a single mother. Where words were cut, words were put into my mouth. There was the insinuation that the only reason adoptive parents need access to their child’s family of origin is for medical history and genetics.
I felt disgusted, ashamed, and completely annoyed. Then I felt angry, and used. I sent an email off asking what happened and why. They responded by saying mild editing had been done but the “changes were designed to provide added clarity — not to change the meaning of your (my) words or to take them out of context.”
Problem is, the mild editing did change the context of my words, and thus the added clarity made it seem like I was saying something I don’t actually believe in. Whether it was on purpose, or just a simple editing procedure where poor judgment was used, I’ll never know. What I do know is that words were changed, and paragraphs hacked. Despite an offer to look at the editing, I feel like the damage has been mostly done.
Besides, I think I’d much rather like to explain myself, on my own.
So let’s set the record straight:
I do not believe that children “deserve” a two parent family. I do not believe that a single mother or father is any less of a family than a family with two parents, and I most certainly do not believe that being single is any reason for any woman to be forced to choose adoption.
The agency, my parents and their church told me that I was bound to the depths of hell if I attempted single parenting. I was thrown random, and I’m sure false, statistics about what my life would be like, what my son’s life would be like. There was this grand assumption that I would always be a single mother, that I would be a whore parading men in and out of my child’s life, and that I would always be a young mother. It was painted into a disturbing, terribly awful picture for me. When I voiced my feelings that it didn’t have to be like that, all these “well-meaning” adults pulled the religion card, and of course, in the mormon church, two parents, specifically, a male and a female parent, is everything. Single mothers are garbage to them, second to the idea of two men or two women parenting a child.
So now that you know what they believe, what do I believe?
I’m glad you asked.
I believe that every child in this world deserves to have a home, to have love, to have food in their mouths, clothes on their backs and the security of knowing they have somewhere safe. I believe that parenthood comes in many forms, and that a single mother is no less of a person than a two parent family. I do not, even remotely, subscribe to the idea that adoption should be an option just because a biological father has bailed.
I think that’s pretty clear, and concise.
Now, let’s go over openness, and the importance of it in an “open adoption”.
It is offensive, in my opinion, to believe that openness is only necessary for the simple access of medical reasoning. This insinuates the disgusting idea that you will only ever need them if there is a medical issue, and further projects that you need to be be prepared for that.
We all know that us birth parents are wild, lying, diseased beings who will undoubtedly pass on our terrible genetics to that blessed child that you are now raising. And it will be our fault, not yours. Right?
No, I’m wrong? That’s funny, because I thought it was generally accepted knowledge that we were disfigured both emotionally, and genetically, which is why we weren’t suitable candidates to parent our own children. This is also why access to medical information is so damn important.
Yes, that’s my sarcastic self coming out to have a stab at this situation. I mean, really.
I’m on a roll here, so I might as well tell you what I really think of open adoption. No holding back, full brutal honesty:
In my perfect adoption world? Adoption would be an “open” book in which all parties involved in the adoption would have equal say. The rules would vary from situation to situation, but the adopting families would not hold all the power, agencies would be next to non-existent, and there would be a strong demand for complete full respect from all parties.
If a woman decided, after attempting to first parent that child, that she wanted to go through with adoption, the adopters would have to be just as open as she has to be. They would have to share their lives indentically, open for questioning about medical history, finances, intelligence, and the stability of their relationship- and not to the agency, but to her. When they were brought to their knees in vulnerability, I think then, we could have real discussions about true openness.
I get really riled up when I see this age old belief that this girl, a woman who helped them start a family is not someone to be trusted. This belief screams insecurity, especially when there is no fact to back up that claim. You need me to prove that I am trustworthy? I just handed you my flesh and blood, I think you should be willing to trust me. What else could prove that you can trust me?
This sort of one sided openness, where the adoption agencies and their clients have access to all the information they want, and the birthparents get this neat, articulate profile for which the couples get advice on how to “speak to a birthmother”, is complete bullshit. That’s going go to be the basis for true openness? Even moreso, why does that, a couple meetings and phone calls make you more trustworthy than me?I’ve been in a semi-open adoption for nine years, and I have never once dreamed of ever doing a single thing to disrespect my son’s family. Yet, I still feel on a daily basis that I have something to prove, like I am not yet fully trusted.
Besides all of that, openness is not about the birthmother or the adopting parents. It’s about the child. THE CHILD. You know, the one who is going to feel this decision the deepest, the one who will have a lot of questions about where he came from, why he came to your home, how he got there, and who he really is on many levels that go so far beyond medical histories. We need to be open with each other, so that we can be open with the adoptee.
If even one side holds back, then it will always be at the utter detriment of the adoptee.
In case that rant wasn’t clear enough, here’s the gist:
Openness in adoption, simply for medical access is not good enough.
* * * * * * * * * *
Considered my hands slapped, consider me feeling ridiculously stupid. I mean, really, I bought into the idea that an agency promoting adoption for adopting families could be a diamond in the rough. My words were twisted, even though the protester claims only for editorial purposes. The truth is, they now fit a greater message that I simply don’t necessarily subscribe to. I hate that I still have this ridiculous need to believe that for all the bad there is in this adoption world, there is some good, because I have seen it. It is there, it just seems to be so rare. I just want to believe that it isn’t all about the adopting families, and deep down, everyone aches for the same reform I do. Reform that would help these children have access to their original birth certificates, unaltered. Reform that would mandate openness, the same way it is mandated in divorces. Reform that would keep mothers from buying into the marketing gimmick that adoption has become, and would find resources that would lead her to make her own, un-coerced choices about what is best for her and her baby.
I won’t stop trying to find away to make these changes. I won’t stop sharing my story, but next time, I’ll be a lot more careful with my words, and who gets access to “censor” them. They are my words, and I am the only one who gets to edit them. Most certainly, they are not to be twisted for the benefit of any other agenda, but my own.
For a breakdown of the major edits made, see The Breakdown of The Edits: Don’t Twist My Words